Florence Foster Jenkins (Movie 2016)

2 Kernels for the Movie/Story

4 Kernels Kiss for Hugh Grant

Streaming FREE for Amazon Prime members, is Florence Foster Jenkins.  Tired from a long day’s work, I plugged in and finally watched the movie.  It was a rather interesting story, but laced with sadness and irritation.

Hugh Grant (now old enough for his AARP membership) is still quite the looker and deserved his Oscar nomination.  Meryl Streep (who has never been a favorite of mine on the screen – sorry) was tolerable as Florence, whose character I found irritating and not just because she couldn’t sing. Simon Helberg aka Howard Wolowitz made it to big screen as Florence’s accompanist on the piano, Cosme McMoon, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal.

The movie, of course, is based upon Florence Foster Jenkins’ love of music and dream of being a singer.  Lied to by her voice coach, encouraged by her husband, and Cosme quietly agreeing in order to keep his job, she actually believes that she can sing.  Unfortunately, she is utterly terrible.  Out of love or some other motive, no one has the gall to tell her to her face how horrible she sounds, so she continues to pursue her career taking it all the way to a performance at Carnegie Hall.

When you consider the fact, and if it is really true as portrayed in the movie, it’s a sad state of affairs that those who purported to love her misused her in such a way. Perhaps her husband didn’t see it as such, attempting to be supportive, but in the end it damages her more than helps.  Her marriage is a strange one, having been infected with syphilis in her first marriage she has never consummated her second.  Her husband, St. Clair, receives his comfort outside the bonds of marriage with another woman at an apartment that he keeps.  It’s an arrangement that is understood but never acknowledged even between the two of them.

Though an interesting story about a real-life person, I found the movie painful to watch by the extended period of off-tuned singing the audience is subjected to in order to make the point. When you listen to the actual recording of Florence, it pretty much sounds the same as Steep, sadly to say.

In retrospect, I would have preferred more background of their marriage and her life up to this point, rather than the one and only focus of her lessons, recital, the recording she paid for, and her ultimate rise to fame for some odd reason. Those sole points do not enlighten the audience as to who Florence was as a person beside her horrible voice. Her character itself isn’t portrayed as an intelligent or endearing one but rather odd, making it seem all the more cruel that people continue to humorously go along with her misguided intentions.  It is such a miss-match between her and St. Clair, you wonder why they fell in love and stayed married.

Her booking of Carnegie Hall, of course, is the pinnacle of her singing career.  However, when she comes across the one scathing review her husband tried to keep her from reading, her health deteriorates from a broken heart of finally realizing she couldn’t keep a tune after all.

I really cannot give the movie much more than a two on this one, but I’ll give Grant a four kernel kiss for his acting and handsome face.

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