The first thing that struck me about the movie Florence Foster Jenkins is that Hugh Grant is aging. Sad, but true. It’s happening to all of us, but there is little gratification in seeing it on him.
Grant has played his share of bad boys, roles which he seems most comfortable with. Indeed, he shines in one of my all-time favorites, About A Boy, in his narcissistic-yet-lovable skin opposite the ever-formidable Toni Colette. However, in this movie, he manages as longsuffering hubby to wannabe opera singer, Florence. As the facts of Florence and her struggles unfold, the thought recurs time and again how the real Mr. Jenkins should have been inducted into sainthood. He was clearly a man of tremendous compassion.
Grant does get the opportunity to cut loose a little with some swing dancing, which is fun to see.
The second reactive moment was when Meryl Streep’s version of Florence’s bad singing went on way too long. Way, WAY too long. I mean like, we get it already. Why must we suffer?
The appearance of Simon Helberg offers a welcome respite from the auditory onslaught. Nobody can make a mortified face quite like Simon Helberg. He offers a whole plethora of boggled, plaintive expressions.
The movie is sweet, dripping with loyalty and devotion, personal sacrifice and protected innocence. It hits home the point: True love means supporting the dreams of your partner, no matter how misguided they may seem.
There are a few occasions when the tale’s oddity clangs with the notion that this stuff actually happened. It falls under the too-weird-to-be-true-but-it-still-is category, kinda like Eastwood’s The Changling, only happier.
The story moves along pretty briskly and the cinematography, the color palette of the era is engaging and delicious.
At the end, the credits roll with some of Florence’s actual recordings, and it hits home how screechily accurate Meryl Streep’s wailings are. However, that probably doesn’t come as a surprise. She is, after all, Meryl Streep.
I came away not cramped with laughter, but actually a bit melancholy. It is worth seeing, though.
If you can stand the noise.