Submitted by Ruth
If you generally avoid reading film reviews because they give away too many plot points, or describe things you'd rather find out for yourself, you're in luck. Here's all you need to know about recent release Florence Foster Jenkins: it's great, you'll love it, go see it.
If you want to know why I liked it, keep reading. No important spoilers ahead.
Florence Foster Jenkins is the true story a New York heiress hell-bent on performing opera. Unfortunately, she sang the way Abe Lincoln danced: "in the worst way".
Those who strive in the arts will see themselves reflected in her struggles. Amidst the hubris necessary to put before the public what we create, we convince ourselves that we are Beverly Sills; however, we secretly fear we may in fact be ... Florence Foster Jenkins.
The excruciating lack of talent Jenkins had is not shared by those who portray her or her close circle of compatriots, namely Meryl Streep in the title role, with Hugh Grant as her adoring husband, and Simon Helberg, as her long-suffering accompanist.
In this film of many merits, it is the acting that makes it the most worth watching. Few movies have such incredible skill all in one place, and I'm not just talking about Meryl Streep. Her excellence is a given. Hugh Grant is someone who, while never bad, surprised me with the depth he's given Jenkins' husband; in less nuanced hands, the character would have appeared self-serving and perhaps, even villainous. But the real stand-out, the one who steals every scene he's in, is Simon Helberg. His well-timed nervous tittering and laughter-suppressing sighs bring to mind the master of such tics, the recently passed genius, Gene Wilder. If there's any justice, he, as well as Grant, will be remembered, and deservedly so, at Oscar time.
All in all, a charming film, and an enjoyable night out for adults, with nary an explosion or fire arm in sight; the only violence done will be to your eardrums. 9/10. Now playing at a theater near you.
As a side note, we also recently saw Marguerite, a French film from 2015, loosely based on Jenkins' life.
It stars the wonderful Catherine Frot in the title role (for which she won the Best Actress French Oscar, the César), and she deliciously eats up the scenery with her warm and humorous performance. This film was much less generous to the people who surrounded the singer, revealing each of them in turn to be self-motivated, greedy, and unsympathetic. Ultimately this grim treatment does the picture in.
Most of the movie, 9/10. Last ten minutes or so, 2/10. Total score: 4/10. Available on Amazon Video for a fee.