Tony's Take


florence_foster_jenkins_xlgThe Inspiring True Story of the World’s Worst Singer

In the 1940’s, one lady dominated the music scene in New York City.  Florence Foster Jenkins and her husband, St. Clair Bayfield owned a major entertainment venue named the Verdi Club.  Filled with a passion for music, their lives consisted of concerts, lunches, dinners, and special engagements that all support their mutual love.  In-search of a new piano player, Florence decides that she’d like to restart her singing lessons.  One day during her lessons, Florence decides that she’d like to perform a concert.  However, unbeknownst to her, her singing is absolutely dreadful; off tone, off key, and out of pitch.  Instead of focusing on the negative, they begin developing a program and choosing their venue.  After the muddled-success of her performance, it’s now time for a farewell event for the ages.  They don’t just choose any venue for Florence’s Final Show; Carnegie Hall is their first and only choice.  While Florence focuses on singing, St. Clair does all that he can to assure only Florence fans make it inside, trying to hide the beautiful but unfortunate truth of Florence Foster Jenkins from the rest of the World.

Meryl Streep stars as the heroic and sensational woman, Florence Foster Jenkins.  Streep is stunning as Florence, carrying herself with grace and poise, all well nailing the singing scenes as well.  Hugh Grant is charming as Florence’s loving husband, St. Clair Bayfield.  Simon Helberg plays the fortunate pianist of Florence’s, Cosme McMoon.  Rebecca Ferguson plays St. Clair’s lover, Kathleen.  Nina Arianda and Stanley Townsend play a rich couple, Agnes and Phineas Stark.  Allan Corduner plays John Totten.  Christian McKay plays Earl Wilson.  David Haig plays Carlo Edwards.  John Sessions plays Florence’s physician, Dr. Hermann.  Brid Brennan plays Florence and St. Clair’s housekeeper, Kitty.  John Kavanagh plays Florence’s teacher, Arturo Toscanini.

“Florence Foster Jenkins” showcases is talent and elegance, but it unfortunately is a history lesson that could have used a lighter touch.  In this film, there is a very small trio of characters that support the majority of the film; however they do a splendid job and share a remarkable chemistry.  Streep, Grant, and Helberg are together for the majority of the film and they wittingly bounce jokes off of each other and playful banter; which all seems effortless.  At the heart of “Florence Foster Jenkins” is a beautiful story of courage, love, and music; one that I was completely unfamiliar with before the film.  The singing is (purposefully) awful at times, but the scenes add a much-needed injection of comedic relief.  The film has some lull throughout, as some sequence as oddly-transitioned and drag-on just a bit too long.  “Florence Foster Jenkins” has a run time of 110 minutes and it occasionally drags-on during its bloated middle.  Make no mistake, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is an entertaining and heartwarming history lesson, but as the film progresses you can’t help leave wondering what could have been.  Streep fans will find plenty to love here and she and Hugh Grant are a very charming team; but though entertaining, “Florence Foster Jenkins” feels like one that will unfortunately be overlooked entirely.

“Florence Foster Jenkins” follows the courageous true story of one of New York City’s bust important musical talents.  The film features a few endearing performances, a heartwarming story, and some well-place humor.  If you are a fan of the delight of music, go see “Florence Foster Jenkins” this weekend! 

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FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS is rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material, in theaters AUGUST 12TH!

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