Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: after seeing Florence Foster Jenkins at its premiere in London last month, it was Hugh Grant’s performance I remembered more than Meryl Streep’s. I know I’m in the minority but I hated Four weddings and a Funeral. And after reprising that role in one dire rom com after another, I understood why even Grant would want to semi retire from the business. Yet, here he is, older, heavier, greyer but finally displaying an acting range he’s hasn’t been allowed to so far. He’s very moving here as the devoted husband of the ‘ worst singer in the world.’
In 1944 as World War II ravages the world, heiress and opera lover Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) finds solace in music, which she declares, is her life. With despairing pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg) to accompany her, she plays concerts staged by her husband and manager, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) in the city.
Unbeknown to her, the concerts are micro managed by her husband along with the rave reviews from critics. Money changes hands as he ensures that she never knows how awful she is.
Deluded she may be but in Streep’s brilliant hands Florence is never less than likeable and worthy of sympathy.
Although the film is laugh out loud hilarious, we don’t quite laugh at Florence. We laugh and laugh because Stephen Frears has made a wonderfully warm and genuinely funny film. And when we discover Florence’s sad secrets, we root for her without question.
FFJ is a very entertaining film and if you’re not quite sure what the point of it is, don’t trouble yourself. Just enjoy.