In association with the Grosvenor
Florence Foster Jenkins is one of those films that the critics seem to praise for no apparent reason. The film is a character study on a woman who was supposedly the worst singer who ever lived. Despite how apparently awful she was, Florence (played by Meryl Streep) garnered somewhat of a fan base both genuine and in jest. This idea that someone is passionate about something they’re really not very good at is one that’s been seen in Ed Wood, Cool Runnings and even in the recent Eddie the Eagle.
However, the characters in those films faced their critics head on, acknowledging they weren’t great but still determined and enthusiastic. This is something Jenkins doesn’t do until the last five minutes. Most of the film is spent with her friends and family trying to steer her away from the criticism. The only newspapers she’s allowed to read are the ones that praise her (of which there were none historically). While there are the occasional youths or drunks that snigger and sneer, her only real critic is an unbelievable snoot who is easier to sympathise with than Jenkins herself.
Because of this the entire film felt like a humongous ego trip for Jenkins. Her character and her obliviousness felt uncomfortable. The acting was all over the place; Meryl Streep is too whimsical, Rebecca Ferguson is given nothing to work with and Simon Helberg mumbles his way through the script as if he got nervous on set.
There are some good things about it though. Hugh Grant gave a really good performance and it has a nice message about living your dreams no matter what anyone says. But the film is pretentious and the way it handled its true story felt like manipulative pandering to older audiences who are going to get teary eyed over it.
This film could’ve been as heartfelt as Ed Wood or Cool Runnings but it gets the formula all wrong and thus Florence Foster Jenkins becomes a tiresome and, at times, aggravating experience.