Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

2:46 PM

The inspiring true story of the world's worst singer.
 Florence Foster Jenkins is directed by Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) and stars Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, Into the Woods), Hugh Grant (About a Boy, Notting Hill), Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) and Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Hercules). "The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice". This may be the inspiring true story of the world's worst singer but where does the film rank in comparison?

The sad thing is that I was actually looking forward to this film - I only knew about it around 2 months ago when the trailer dropped and it looked really wacky, funny and weird film. Florence Foster Jenkins ended up being just like what you would expect a biopic to be like - the bad singing got old after the first time hearing it and that was really it - I didn't have sky high hopes as I was aware I wasn't the target audience for the film but I was expecting to see a high quality film and what I got was a little 'meh'. 

The performances were very strong which seems to be one thing a lot of mediocre films have going for them recently. Meryl Streep becomes yet another character and is fantastic - if the Oscars are struggling to fill the Best Female category, I am sure they will turn to Streep as this is of the level of her other nominations. However, the film did have me thinking that Streep was running out of roles - she has resulted to being in a film about a bad opera singer. Hugh Grant was charming even though his character was pretty unlikeable at times. I was actually pretty impressed with Simon Helberg who I hadn't witnessed in a film before and I think this is the start of a long career in film (I know he is already successful in TV) - his character was quirky and funny. I also think Helberg has the visual appeal of a mad villain so maybe that could be his next role? I didn't actually realise Rebecca Ferguson was in this film, her role is much smaller compared to the other 3 but she is still very good, despite her character being extremely unlikeable. 

Florence Foster Jenkins has a pretty straight forward narrative - it is the story of the world's worst opera singer. I found the narrative well structured and entertaining at times. The best parts of the film were when Florence was either rehearsing or performing - the rest of the scenes were good but no where near as entertaining. The performance scenes were also where the comedy was strong - even though the joke did become tiresome, it still made the film feel a little light-hearted. What I liked about this film is that unlike The Danish Girl (which is targeted at a similar audience), it didn't take itself too seriously and was full of comic relief. However, the film did attempt to become emotional towards the end which may work for some but was ruined for me due to the whole sequence being very cheesy (look out for Streep in an angel costume). 

My main problem with Florence Foster Jenkins is that the whole film felt pretty unnecessary and I don't think this story really needed to be told in film - it suggests Hollywood really is scraping the barrel. I know I enjoyed Joy which is a film about the creation of the mop but that film has so many other different undertones and themes that I felt it was about more than just a mop. However, Florence Foster Jenkins was simply about a bad opera singer - she didn't actually know she was bad or that people just laughed at her until the very end so there isn't really a theme about trying your best or carrying on no matter what - I feel that there are better stories to tell. Director Stephen Frears has created some really interesting films that tackle intriguing narratives but Florence Foster Jenkins should be wacky but the whole style just doesn't match the concept. I also found the film overlong and very slow - I checked the time too many times throughout this film as the pace was very slow. 

Florence Foster Jenkins is a middling disappointment - I am admittedly the wrong target audience but I still saw promise from the trailer. This is certainly not a bad film but it is definitely nothing new or spectacular - if you want to see the film just to hear Streep sing badly then wait till it is on TV which probably won't be too far down the line. The film has no style but it doesn't really do anything wrong either. Florence Foster Jenkins is a story that didn't need to be told but certainly isn't as bad a film as the film's lead character is an opera singer. The film will satisfy and appeal to its target audience so if that is you, go ahead, enjoy it! It just didn't sing all the right notes for me.

3 STARS
C+

What did you think of FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS? Did you find some undertones in it that I missed? - COMMENT BELOW

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