Florence Foster Jenkins

Theatrical Release: August 12, 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins
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Synopsis

The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.

Dove Review

“Florence Foster Jenkins” features a very entertaining performance from Meryl Streep as the title character. This movie is based on a true story about a woman who had a passion for music and loved to sing, even though she didn’t have a good voice. Florence died in 1944, but not before living a great deal, and not just in terms of length of time.

Florence has a passion for music, but her life isn’t perfect. She is suffering from syphilis, which her first husband gave her, and she says he was an “alley cat” regarding his sexual desires. Her second husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), is determined to make sure Florence gets the opportunity to sing, even though she isn’t good. One of the best lines of the movie comes from Bayfield, who quotes Beethoven and says, “A few wrong notes may be forgiven, but not singing without passion.” He hires a pianist named Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), who gladly accepts the big checks Bayfield pays him, but for the life of him can’t get over what has possessed Florence to attempt to sing. One of the funniest scenes in the film features McMoon laughing to himself in the elevator even though several other people are in it with him.

Florence comes across as a good-hearted woman, as she makes a recording for a woman’s son who lost a leg in the war. When the song is played on the radio and dedicated to the young man, he calls in, and soon Florence is a celebrity to many soldiers. Bayfield is a bit of a mystery wrapped in a riddle. He seems devoted to his wife, even buying up all the newspapers at a newsstand to spare her feelings when a critic tears apart her singing attempt. Unfortunately, Bayfield, who is practicing abstinence with his wife due to their mutual agreement, has a lover on the side. To his credit, his devotion to his wife finally ends the affair.

Streep truly brings the spirit of Florence Foster Jenkins to life. Hugh Grant also turns in a strong performance as the husband who will do anything for his wife to make sure she fulfills her dream to sing at Carnegie Hall. His challenge is to make sure she isn’t embarrassed when she does. The film’s ending includes Florence imagining herself singing beautifully, and if it is indeed Streep singing, she does a remarkable job. In fact, when she sings badly during the movie, it is remarkable for two reasons: First of all, it is hilarious, and secondly, how she can keep a straight face is beyond me. Fittingly, the voice of the real Florence is presented during the credits. Regrettably, strong language prevents us from awarding our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this otherwise entertaining film.

Content Description

Sex: A married man has an ongoing affair with a young woman and is shown kissing her, but finally his devotion to his wife ends it; man and woman shown in bed in the morning after sleeping together; statement that a woman has syphilis, given to her from her first husband; a husband and wife kiss; a few innuendos, including one about pleasure.
Language: GD-1; G/OMG-5; Oh Good Lord-1; Good G-1; For G*d's Sake-1; G Darn it-1; A-2; A** holes-2; BS-1; S.O.B.-1; H-1; Bloody-1; Holy Cow-1; Geez-2
Violence: Statement that a soldier lost a leg, and part of his face was damaged in the war.
Drugs: Drinking in several scenes, including wine; several parties and people are inebriated; an "Exported Whiskey" sign is shown in the city; empty alcohol bottles are shown after parties; comments about drinking; "They're all drunk" comment; a toast; several scenes of a man smoking a cigarette.
Nudity: Shirtless man; shirtless man in bed, and a woman's bare shoulders are shown when she is in bed; a woman's bare back is visible; cleavage; woman's thigh is shown when she dances, and her skirt has a slit in it.
Other: A man vomits from drinking too much; a man bribes people not to laugh when they listen to his wife sing; tension between a few characters; a woman cries over not being able to give her husband a child; one pianist says Florence's singing is "raping my ears."

Info

Company: Paramount
Director: Stephen Frears
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 110 min.
Industry Rating: PG-13
Reviewer: Edwin L Carpenter