Florence Foster Jenkins – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

florence foster jenkinsFlorence Foster Jenkins – 3/5 – Films can generate many intriguing characters, stories and situations.  No matter what the genre is, you get to see the world through various lenses (no pun intended).  This film (in particular) is one that goes about this within the ideals of bio-pic.  Many films that dabble in this concept progress in a way of seeing the life span of a single person.  Every now and then, a film presses upon a specific moment in time.  Florence Foster Jenkins follows a very proclaimed woman that strives to be the best at specific things.  What you see is a film that becomes an oddly shaped tragic-comedy that emphasize characterization on a different level.  Even for some lacking in story development, because of the strong characters, Florence Foster Jenkins will warm your hearts in a very obscure way.

Premise: The film focuses on the later life of Florence Foster Jenkins, an heiress of New York City that wants to become an Opera Singer

In the lead role of the titular character is famed actress Meryl Streep.  There is no need to go into the deep accolades that this woman has garnered over the years.  One of the best at her craft, Streep does what she does best in this lead role.  As Jenkins, she brings about someone that is overtly loving of the world; who is happy and genuine in her own unique ways.  Her whimsy personality brings a strange aura of excitement to everyone around her; generating a feeling of love, heart and humility.  Knowing her struggles both physically and emotionally, she pushes through with the heart of a champion.  No matter whom she interacts with, she is powerful in her charm and commanding by her charismatic tone.  The bravado is both odd and superfluous; making you laugh at the situations she is involved with instead of the main reasoning of her lost talents.  This generates depth in her situation while characterizing the ongoing struggles within a delightful tone.  It is strange, but with an actress like her, it works.   With the rest of the cast, you have as followed:

Hugh Grant as St Clair Bayfield

Simon Helberg as Cosme McMoon

Rebecca Ferguson as Kathleen

Providing strength in supporting roles, these individuals do a great job in providing the background perspective to the lead character.  They are strong in their own right; generating exceptional but intuitive perspectives of their own persons and of Jenkins.  The interactions are brought through that same kind of ‘odd’ natural tone; helping creating a witty, comical but overtly colorful feeling of everyone and everything.  As the film doesn’t delve too much into each of these characters individually, they do enough to provide worth and conviction on the screen.  The rest of the supporting cast are very basic on the screen.  With this following the script of a bio-pic, they do enough to make the world lively around.

The direction takes the concept of a bio-pic and builds it through the art of a Shakespearean kind of tone.  What I mean is that the ideals of true events are taking through the development of a general script of a tragic-comedy.  Within this concept, it focuses on a specific moment in time of the titular character.  Florence Foster Jenkins is a very well-known heiress of New York city.  She loves life and especially loves music (as that has been part of her whole life).  One day, she gets the inspiration to be an opera singer.  From this point, the film builds upon this focal point and takes you on this journey.  From the beginning; the direction is very simplistic.  This is because the ideals of the concepts are built through a lot of dialogue and exposition.  The script puts focus on the titular character through thoughtful provocation of the pathos of a play; the ideals of struggle and sacrifice.  At the same time, it builds the tone through unique methods; usurping the tragic-comedy through a strange twist of focusing on the era of which this takes place.  The audience gets to see a strange building of comedy and drama within character depth.  Even so, the relationships of everyone unfolds through the repetitive nature of bio-pic tropes.  Even in that predictability, it gets turned and reshaped through the eye of the characters themselves.  There is fun and excitement built through the challenges of Jenkins’ singing, but also a flawed individual who doesn’t see the truth of the outside world.  On top of the unique tone, the physical comedy generates layers; while the interactions being built become heartfelt and witty.  Through the first two acts; you get to see how the commanding of the titular character keeps you centered.  This is a good thing because there is no real focus on plot development.  Even with the lack of structure, watching the motivated ideals and oddly conforming themes and tones mold together provides an authentic feel to the characters and situation at hand.  Once you get through all the highs and lows of the journey, you reach a climax that brings the outside and inside worlds of Jenkins’ life together.  This brings about a realization factor that humanizes everyone in the film.  Once you get to the end, it is winding down through the common ‘life is unforgettable’ mantra, bringing about closure that emphasizes moments of the common tragic-comedy play.  It is a sadden but welcome epilogue to the journey of this great woman.

The visuals are aesthetic to the era of which the film takes place.  Within the common ‘city building’ method; you get to feel a part of this time of life in New York City.  You’re drowned with enraptured feelings; being captured by the existence of believing you are there.  The score is somewhat a hit and miss.  As much as it helps provide some emotional girth; it relatively stays mute throughout the running time.

Florence Foster Jenkins might be a very odd styling bio-pic; but it is one that showcases talents within the lead character.  Streep commands this role, showing the strength of a woman that is deeply flawed within her talents.  If you’re a fan of Streep of bio-pics, this is one for you.  I recommend this as an early showing, a worthy film to see at a matinee.

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