Review: ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Is Filled With Oscar Worthy Performances
“Florence Foster Jenkins” has definite Oscar potential.
Based on the true story of a New York heiress with dreams of being an opera singer, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is an interesting biographical comedy. While Florence (Meryl Streep) has dreams, her husband St Clair (Hugh Grant) has built a false reality masking her as a brilliant singer to others when she is actually very flawed.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 4.5
This film screams “Oscar” on many levels. It’s not a surprise that Meryl Streep does exceptionally well in the lead role, instead the surprise comes in the unique nature of the role. Playing a character with a factual basis has its hurdles already but acquiring a talent like singing (or lack thereof) is a truly supplemental feat. Meryl is in prime form playing the role of the late Florence Foster Jenkins and is essentially transformative in nature. She loses herself in the role finding a way to both sing horribly and believe that she’s actually a great singer. When it comes to Meryl, she makes bad sound good.
Hugh Grant meshes amicably with Meryl and his performance is adequate. There’s not much to say about his performance as his character didn’t have the charisma to shine like Meryl. But while Grant may not have had the luster, “Big Bang Theory’s” Simon Helberg was absolutely, unexpectedly amazing. Playing the role of Florence’s pianist Cosme McMoon, he shined about as bright as Meryl perfectly emoting with the right amount of theatricality and realism. I would be very surprised if Helberg does not get an Oscar nomination. I personally think he gave the breakthrough performance of the year.
Outside of the performances, “Florence Foster Jenkins” is a well executed film when it comes to plot, cinematography, and score. The story is simple but inspirational and has added value with its factual basis. It’s primarily driven by character development so the performances played a big part in my personal engagement. There’s also an aspect of suspense with the constant effort of keeping up with Florence’s delusions. It’s no easy task feeding Florence’s dream and the cast definitely shows the struggle.
Accompanying the plot is a setting that perfectly depicts the 1940s. The architecture of New York City matched perfectly with how one would imagine the period yet the film played it smart by focusing on a more inclusive setting. Much of the film was comprised of interior scenes but the decor and costumes painted the picture very well.
Overall “Florence Foster Jenkins” is a film that is extremely well put together. Meryl Streep and Simon Helberg are the driving force of the story with their amazing performances. The other cinematic elements compliment the outstanding performances and wrap things up in a package that will probably be delivered with a bow during awards season.
Entertainment Value – 3
Although “Florence Foster Jenkins” is superb when held to structural film standards, it won’t exactly be a film for everyone. There’s entertainment to be had from this film for the cinephiles and even general audiences will be engaged in regards to these dynamic characters and interesting true story. But that story doesn’t consistently entertain.
The progression for this film can be arduous at times. The stillness intended to convey the mood of certain scenes can be misconstrued as dormancy. For that reason some may feel that “Florence Foster Jenkins” lacks excitement despite having a plentiful amount of quality.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
While I thoroughly appreciate this film and everyone associated with it, this is a story that doesn’t have a lot of replay value. It’s definitely a must see and commendable on many levels but it’s a genuine experience that can only be experienced in limited viewings.
- Entertainment Value
"Florence Foster Jenkins" touts and delivers a strong performance from Meryl Streep and surprises us with Simon Helberg. It's a genuine film with a lot of heart and story that will appease cinephiles but maybe not all audiences.
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