Should one take into consideration the size of their talents when deciding to flex their artistic muscles? If the person in question is someone you care about is it best to point out the obvious truth that they have no talent, ugly as that fact may be, or allow the person to go on doing what their heart tells them they must do? These are some of the more philosophical points that the filmmakers attempt to get across during the film, Florence Foster Jenkins, the latest undertaking to headline actress extraordinaire, Meryl Streep.
Florence Foster Jenkins belongs solely in that category known as the biopic, a genre of film that is hotter now that at any time in recent memory. If one wants to see a film that doesn’t feature animated characters or super heroes in its cast of characters then biopics are about the only hope that one has and as such, Florence Foster Jenkins delivers the goods. Its tale is a story whose details are largely forgotten and, for my money, these are the ripest subjects for the biopic genre. I like a film that not only manages to entertain but also manages to enlighten at the same time. This is one of those films that scores on both fronts.
The film’s title character, unsurprisingly, is capably portrayed by the aforementioned Meryl Streep in the type of role she’s made a career out of during the last four decades.
Jenkins was a New York heiress and socialite who, as portrayed in the film, lost most of the joy in her life a long time before we are introduced to the character. Suffering from the debilitating effects of syphilis, Jenkins seemed to come alive when belting out songs in front of an audience. Of course, the fact that she had no musical talent was lost on her and certainly wouldn’t have stopped her had she known.
As previously mentioned, it’s no surprise how good Streep is in the film but what is a surprise is how effective Hugh Grant is in the role of Jenkins’ protective husband. This is the kind of plum role which Grant used to sink his teeth into but rarely gets the opportunity to these days. He’s imperfect, carrying on affairs behind his wife’s back, but he also tenderly protects his wife from the harsh truth that she has no talent and makes it his life’s mission to foster his wife’s musical aspirations no matter what the cost.
Florence Foster Jenkins is best described as a slight affair at best but I’m sure audiences of a certain kind will warm to it. It’s the kind of film that studio heads aren’t greenlighting in droves these days. It would be nice to see it score financially if for no other reason than that it might inspire other films of its ilk to get made. I guess only time and box office receipts will tell.
Photo: Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins
Florence Foster Jenkins is playing in Hickory and all around the area including Winston-Salem, at a/perture, and Charlotte.
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