Meryl Streep brings us life in the key of aaarrrggghhh in Florence Foster Jenkins [Review]

Meryl Streep brings us life in the key of aaarrrggghhh in Florence Foster Jenkins [Review]

To call Meryl Streep talented is an clear understatement, but in playing the title role in the biopic Florence Foster Jenkins, she goes beyond anything she’s done, playing the 1940s singer.

Florence is an American socialite who makes incredibly generous donations to music programmes in New York. A former child prodigy on the piano, she loves music, probably above all else. Now in her 70s, she decides she wants to take singing lessons, and perhaps give concerts. She engages a famous conductor as her vocal coach, and her husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) employs Cosme McMoon (Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg) as her accompanist.

There’s just one minor problem: Florence is totally tone-deaf.

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The cast makes this absolutely unmissable. As with everything she does, Streep manages even to perfectly portray the soprano, right down to her off-key renditions of famous arias. But Grant and Helberg are the real revelations: Grant, as her devoted supporter, seeing past the flat notes and hearing only the passion; and Helberg’s zealous young musician who fears that his reputation will be ruined if people see him with this talent-less old woman, but who eventually learns to hear beyond the squawking.

The costumes and sets alone are enough to warrant buying a ticket.

But in the end, it’s the ideas that music can change lives, and that love takes many forms, that make this so wonderful, and will remain with you long after the credits roll.

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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Life in the key of aaarrrggghhh


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