Thursday, August 11, 2016
DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR
By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
Not dissimilar to her role as Julia Child in Julie & Julia (click for T&T post) the magnificent Meryl Streep straps on the pounds and falsetto voice to play another eccentric matron with a devoted husband. An once again, I loved it! There's just no denying the fact that Streep is every bit as good as the credit she's always given.
Streep in the eponymous role of Florence Foster Jenkins opens the film as a very full bodied angel of inspiration being hoisted above a piano on ropes held by straining stage hands. She's performing for an annual event at her music club, entertaining her most loyal friends and acquaintances, completely in her element; her only complaint - a missing ingredient in her most famous and ubiquitous potato salad, to which her doting husband, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant); gently reminds, there is a war going on (WWII).
It's this performance which inspires Florence to return to taking voice lessons, something we are to understand she does from time to time, hiring only the best vocal coach in town, who is all too willing to humor her for a tidy sum. This exchange of generosity for deference, cushions Jenkins' entire world, mainly orchestrated by St. Clair, whom she calls Whitey. Florence is blind to the fact that those around her are merely placating her, not just in her singing aspirations, but in almost every aspect of her life. Or is she? It almost seems as though she's aware on some level, that her brand of "clueless" manipulation has allowed her to have an easier life. A life that could have been cut short, since tragically at the age of 19, Florence contracted Syphilis on her wedding night and has been suffering with ailments of the disease for over 50 years. In fact, it's possible symptoms of this disease may be what affected her voice, her hearing, her judgement or all three.
Rounding out the whimsy is Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg, Big Bang Theory) who gets hired as Jenkins' pianist, unaware at first of her "unique" talent. Once again Florence is able to buy someone's loyalty, and yet again, Mr. McMoon genuinely wishes to be in her good graces over and above his generous salary, as Florence's love of music and life is simply infectious.
Bottom Line: Director Stephen Frears who has made other successful movies about women of a certain age, Dame Judi Dench in Philomena and Mrs Henderson Presents and Helen Mirren in The Queen, now gives us Meryl Streep in an entertaining film of absurdist reality with Florence Foster Jenkins.
NPR's Terry Gross interview with Meryl StreepDuring the below podcast Streep not only speaks about the real life of Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944), but also about the role music has played in her own life since first stepping out on stage in high school to play Marion the librarian in "The Music Man". We've seen Streep sing in many movies Heartburn, Silkwood, Postcard From the Edge, Mamma Mia, Into the Woods and Ricki and the Flash, but she also uses music to prepare for each role even when there's no singing involved. She reveals that she'll choose a song to listen to obsessively that has nothing at all to do with the movie or role she's about to play. "Music pulls emotion into the center of your being and obliterates all the extraneous noise."
LISTEN BELOW (podcast will not be visible to those receiving T&T via RSS feed click HERE to listen)
My Cinema Sneak n Snack for this movie was a real smorgasbord!
T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score:4 outta 5
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