Monday, December 19, 2016


Based on a true story, Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) was a rich woman living in New York in the first half of the 20th century, she was a patron of the music life of the city. The film takes place in 1944, the year in which Florence decided to perform in public despite her objectively terrible singing voice and follows the people that helped her perform her dream.

Whilst it might lack a little depth in the character development, Florence Foster Jenkins is yet another beautiful piece of film from mastermind director Stephen Frears. A lively comedy with great performances, laughter throughout the whole film and a great heart.

One thing that struck my eye as soon as the film started and kept impressing me positively throughout the whole film was just how wonderfully it was designed and shot. The production design team and the impressive costume department (stay for the credits and look at just how many costumers worked on the film) build the atmosphere of 1944's New York and bring it to life with real energy and vibrancy. Every setting is just dripping with detail and extravagant colors. Then Danny Coen comes in and shoots the hell out of this. The cinematography of this film is really powerful, firstly the film is lit beautifully, every scene has rich tones and looks impeccable, then you add some very impressive camera work, set ups done in key moments and you have a film that really excels visually in bringing to life the world it portrays in a way that gives life to the comedy and the heart of the picture.

Technically this is one of those films that's just perfect and shows all the experience of Frears, he is one of those directors that has done it for all his life, he knows the medium in and out and shows us all of his prowess with it. The score by Desplat is yet another brilliant piece by this amazing composer, the sound is phenomenal and in a picture that continuously switches between dialogue and live music it is impressive to see how the audience just does not give it a second thought. The staging of every scene is tight, to the point and visually stimulating. This is a directorial piece that really brings to life a vision in every single department of filmmaking.

Of course everything starts out from a remarkable and incredibly funny screenplay with every character from the smallest of speaking roles to the lead being really juicy to play. And all of the cast rises to the challenge and gives a masterful ensemble comedic performance. There are small recurring characters in the film that repeatedly steal the show and then when we come to the leading quartet of performances we find a delight that never ends. Ferguson once again shows us that she is a great, great actress who is here to stay and gives what could possibly have been a throw away role a real presence on screen. Helberg plays his quirky part with a strikingly perfect balance and has some moments of slapstick comedy that had me rolling with laughter. Streep is the character itself as we can now ordinarily expect from her, yet the standout is Hugh Grant, mixing his charm and charisma to a very heartfelt performance that has a real beat on screen thanks to what Grant does with the character physically.

Where the film sadly looses steam is in the exploration of these characters. Whilst we manage to get with all of them a genuine emotional attachment, we are left a little unsatisfied with the depth they are given by the end. The film, probably involuntarily, hints at a deeper layer to all of them and we never get to see it. We don't understand the core motivations of these people and whilst we roll with all of them when its time to laugh, the resolution isn't satisfying and leaves us with a little thirst for pay off. We don't get to understand thoroughly the landscape in which this incredible true story happened.

Florence Foster Jenkins nevertheless remains a glorious theater experience that will have you rolling with energy and laughter and will also give you something emotionally. I had a wonderful time with the film and would proudly recommend it to everyone.

James' Score: 7.5/10

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