Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) Film Review

I remember hearing about this woman on This American Life some time ago – she could not sing one iota, but contributed hugely to the arts scene in New York and put on shows that would have the audience dying to laugh. There is a recording, and she is appalling. And I’ve always wondered – was it cruelty that people allowed her to be ridiculed like this? Or was it right that she should do what she loved regardless? Were her friends and those around her kind to protect her or cruel to allow her to put herself in such humiliating positions?

This film didn’t help. It’s a good film, with a magnificent performance by Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins, and there are many ways in which I feel that this woman was let down by all those who should have been protecting her – in the same way that we see modern figures like Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse let down by those who should be protecting them. Of course, talent is the big different between these later figures and Jenkins – but nonetheless, they have all been ridiculed in many ways.

I found this a difficult film to enjoy because Jenkins, while ridiculous, seems very inncocent, and it just seemed cruel. But was it? Can someone else please watch it and let me know how they felt?

Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Florence Foster Jenkins and the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design as well as Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Hugh Grant), Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Meryl Streep) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Simon Helberg). It won a BAFTA for Best Make Up/Hair and was nominated for Best Leading Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Grant) and Best Costume Design.