Sep 22, 2016

    Streep hits the right notes as rich woman but poor singer


    Comedy / 111 minutes / Opens today

    Rating: 4/5

    FEW have lived a life protected from artistic criticism as Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep).

    She was a mid-20th century New York society woman whose wealth and status shielded her from discovering how terrible she was at doing the thing she loved - singing.

    Her story would make for a satire of the vanity of the rich. And in dramatising her life, director Stephen Frears (Philomena, 2013; The Queen, 2006) and screenwriter Nicholas Martin do make fun of her.

    But only a little. The primary emotion in this warmly rendered and often funny comedy is affection, for the subject of this biopic and her peculiarly child-like way of seeing the world.

    For too long, she has been kept in blissful ignorance of how her singing is regarded by those who love her, including husband Bayfield (Hugh Grant, giving one of the best performances of his career) and accompanist Cosme (Simon Helberg).

    Streep offers a stunning performance as Foster. Laughably misguided one moment and heartbreakingly vulnerable the next, she plays her as a woman with delicate feelings, but cursed with the need to expose herself artistically.