Florence Foster Jenkins Review – A Howling Good Time

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Florence Foster Jenkins, from Paramount Pictures, Qwerty films, Pathe Pictures and BBC Films presents the true story of a passionate, dedicated, and artistic patron whose deep love for fine arts drives her to pursue her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall.

Directed by Stephen Frears, Florence Foster Jenkins stars Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg and a host of strong supporting players including Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Stanley Townsend and Allan Corduner and was written by Nicholas Martin.

Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the true story of wealthy New York heiress Florence, played by the incomparable Meryl Streep, who appears to have a conventional and enviable life, a younger, attractive, attentive husband, St. Clair Bayfield, played by Hugh Grant, respect and social acceptance.

Socially she is the quintessential lady who lunches, enjoying the noontime company with the likes of the Vanderbilt’s, European Aristocracy, and those who names grace monuments and towers in the world’s most famous city.

The film begins in the home of Jenkins as she has decided to fulfil her passion of Opera singing. As a woman of means the world, and its praise, is available for the right price.

Encouraged by John Totten, head of the Metropolitan Opera, played by Allan Corduner, Jenkins begins singing lessons. Her passion, and patronage, for the Opera is well known and deeply appreciated and the lessons, of course, and the encouragement, are considered gratuitous. 

In order to maintain the pressures of her lessons, which she admits to practicing for “an hour a day” she auditions and hires an accompanist, Cosmo McMoon, played by Simon Helberg. As he is a serious pianist, his repertoire is extensive and deep.

As Cosmo prepares, shy Jenkins encouraged by the praise of Totten and St. Clair, she begins. As the camera moves from Jenkins to McMoon, the unusual sounds begin to filter through the expectation of the pure operatic voice anticipated. 

McMoon explains as he is shown to the door by Bayfield the sounds emitted by the well-loved Jenkins are somewhat left of normal and he as a serious pianist whose reputation is most important cannot participate in the ruse.

I enjoyed the film. Watching Meryl Streep’s dedication to her character and her inability to produce the sounds that she believes she possesses. One wonders of course, if Jenkins was pulling one over on the rest of society and playing the tricks so perfected in the 21st century of manipulating people to do or say what you want them to do in the face of utter absurdity.

Florence Foster Jenkins is not played that way, she does when she desires cross the unspoken and assumed boundaries of calling on her husband in the morning at his apartment, that she generously maintains for his personal needs. One could say he is the original Kept and Quiet man about town.

However, he is the husband and his behavior affects the relationship as he maintains a secondary relationship. As a cad, one could find no better scoundrel than Hugh Grant to portray and as the film turns to a pivotal moment that may reflect adversely on Jenkins, he rises to the occasion, to protect her, his lifestyle or the precarious financial standing and position he holds.  

Bayfield, and it is not until the story unfolds that one understands that he, is actually somewhat of a cad even in modern convention.

To his credit protecting Jenkins from the realities of a harsh, cruel, world is genuine even if his intentions are not. One does wonder, if enlightenment, knowledge of true conditions is really and always necessary. Does it change or is it only punishing and abusive when the truth only debilities and injures and the lie or façade is simple and benevolent?

Grant plays his role with flair. He is charming, attractive, a perfect escort. He genuinely cares for Jenkins, for personal or financial reasons and they are married. Although, as Jenkins is in poor health, a marriage of convenience is probably the more appropriate term.

Oddly, Jenkins with her position and wealth, finds a soul tie to Cosmo McMoon, the fledgling serious pianist. As she visits him, the scars that limited her efforts as a contemporary are revealed.

As with most women in that era, Jenkins had limited choices even as one of means. The choice of her family, which lead to lifetime health issues, resulted in inclusion in the family estate. To venture away meant poverty. Florence Foster Jenkins does, limitedly, delve into the abuse our lead had in her previous marriage and possibly even earlier.

Simon Helberg has the skills of a fine tuned silent actor. He speaks volumes with one look. And delivers the comedic undercurrent as the only one apparently in this universe who hears the actual notes being sung.

Florence Foster Jenkins is Meryl Streep in her comedic finest. Her skill as an actor to grab the role and make it her own, she has taken a tone deaf socialite and turned her into compassionate and kind, albeit misguided singer, whose pursuits and eccentricities could be tolerated had they not become so well known. She plays the drama with a que sera sera, whatever will be will be, attitude. Her past defined her future and living with the scars she was planning on one hell of a fine time, even if it weren’t in tune, with the rest of it.

Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg create a charming trio! Streep and Grant are at their fine-tuned comedic best! Helberg adds unspoken wit, the unsung hero! Bringing in the strong performances from the supporting cast and Florence Foster Jenkins adds up to a wonderful night at the theater.

History records Florence Foster Jenkins as one of the most requested performances of Carnegie Hall.  One wonders if the height of her eventual and momentary success as a singer were not orchestrated on a different spiritual plane to shine a light on the burdens she bore.

Florence Foster Jenkins opens August 12, 2016. See it. 

Haute Tease

  • Beltway Insider: Obama Tackles Ed Costs; Putin MIA; Russia/Ukraine; Ferguson Erupts; ISIS/Boko Haram

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama continued to escalate his domestic agenda introducing a Student Aid Bill of Rights that will address four areas every student in America should have as they face the daunting costs of higher education.

  • FOXTROT Review - Israeli Official Oscar Entry Delivers Compelling Drama

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    FOXTROT, from Sony Pictures Classics and Bord Cadre Films, brings to the screen a dramatic story of how a series of unfortunate and tragic mistakes initiate its own set of terrible, heartbreaking and irreversible consequences.

  • The New MM 30G From Sennheiser: Superior Audio Quality From Your Samsung With ‘Hands Free’ Call and Track Control

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Las Vegas, NV, January 7, 2014 – Sennheiser unveils its new MM 30G in-ear headset, a ‘perfect fit’ for the latest generation of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets from the Galaxy S2 upwards. Sleek and discreet, it’s a headset with a mobile device remote control, modeled in elegant black or white. It offers you a top of the range Sennheiser music listening experience on your Samsung Galaxy device while giving you complete control for all your conversations on the go.

  • Iron Horse Toasts Diversity with Rainbow Cuvee

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Sebastopol, CA., March 12, 2014 - Iron Horse Vineyards announces the March 17, 2014 release of a new, limited edition, vintage Sparkling Wine called Rainbow Cuvée, available at the winery and on the Iron Horse website.

  • 2014 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile – High End Fashion Meets Elegant Automobiles of the World

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The luxury 2014 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile, has unveiled a global collection of luxury automobiles, as different as the very diverse automobile buying population. From the unusual, to the flamboyant, to the classic luxurious, the Paris Motor Show 2014 does not disappoint.

  • DISNEY PIXAR Host FINDING NEMO 3D World Premiere

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    DISNEY PIXAR recently hosted the World Premiere of FINDING NEMO 3D introducing a new generation to the underwater adventures of an unlikely duo as they navigate the vast oceans in hopes of reuniting father and son.

  • Beltway Insider: Trump Reverses Cuba; HealthCare On Floor; Brits Bowed; Grenfell Towers; Simon Cowell

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence continued to realign the United States position taking on two policies the former administration worked to secure for the American people: Healthcare and Cuban travel restriction.

  • Courtney Sixx, Rock Star Wife, Hollywood DIY Queen, Styles Up Valentine’s Day Flowers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Courtney Sixx, Hollywood's favorite DIY queen, the resident "How2Girl," and wife of MOTLEY CRÜE rocker Nikki Sixx,  proves every home can have the glamorous, alluring and beautiful craft and design projects seen in any luxury magazine.

  • Hands of Stone Review – Engaging, Solid, A Box Office Knockout

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Hands of Stone, from The Weinstein Company, presents the epic story of Roberto Duran, a dirt poor Panamanian slum baby pegged for boxing greatness who rose to rule with the help of a legendary New York trainer Ray Arcel.

  • Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Review – Four Stars! Awesome, Stunning

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, from Netflix and Warner Bros. Pictures, brings a darker tale of Rudyard Kipling's timeless classic to the screen with Mowgli, challenged, broken and returning to protect the only family he has ever known.

  • The Peace Collective Releases “All Together Now” Commemorating Century Mark of Christmas Truce

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Peace Collective, a group of well known British musicians, commemorating the century mark of the World War I Christmas Truce when not a shot was fired, have re-recorded The Farm's "All Together Now" for December 14, 2014 release.

  • Mom Charged in Newborn’s Homicide

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Amanda Catherine Hein, 26, recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the bathroom of a local Bethlehem, Pennsylvania sports bar and promptly smothered him to death and stuffed his remains in the toilet tank.

  • The Giver Review – Oddly Intriguing and Unusually Entertaining

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "The Giver" the sci-fi fantasy, from The Weinstein Company and Walden Entertainment, presents an oddly intriguing, unusually entertaining futuristic journey whose hopes for a better future depend on the ability to survive the revelations of the past.

  • AVATAR Director James Cameron, Producer Jon Landau, Sigourney Weaver Partner with Amazon Watch

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    AVATAR Director James Cameron, Producer Jon Landau and actress Sigourney Weaver have teamed with Amazon Watch to assist the Brazilian based environmental watch dog agency in its fight to stop the construction on sixty dams that will divert the XINGU River.

  • Soothe Mobile Massage-On-Demand Review - Ease of Use Kneads Kinks Out Of Expansion

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    We've all had them. Those days that start off perfectly fine and then take a hard left turn onto the stress superhighway.  On these rough days in particular, there’s nothing like a relaxing massage to calm your nerves and alleviate anxiety.