"He didn't understand musicians. We'd rather go without bread than Mozart." ~ Florence Foster Jenkins
It has been several weeks since I have published a movie review. However, I am back this week with an inspiring film, Florence Foster Jenkins. This 2016 film is based on the real life of Florence Foster Jenkins, an American socialite turn amateur soprano, who took the music world by storm in the first half of the 20th century, but not for reasons you would think. While her status gave her the opportunity to follow her dream of becoming an opera singer, it was her heart that made her succeed.
Meryl Streep stars as the eccentric musician who, years earlier, gave up her family's fortune to teach piano and follow her passion for music. The film also stars Hugh Grant as her husband, St. Clair, and Simon Helberg (Big Bang Theory) as Cosme McMoon, her pianist. All three actors, including the film itself, received numerous industry award nominations including an Oscar nomination for Streep for Best Actress.
On many levels, this film is about a woman who has spent 50 years fighting a disease she knows could take her life at any time. Medical complications destroyed her dreams of being a pianist. It is a very inspiring story, but not one without conflict. First, there is the question as to whether or not St. Clair is helping or harming her by going to great lengths to protect her from the truth - her singing is awful! Then, there is the question as to whether or not this is a case of egotism or simply one of a person sharing their joy?
"We have to help her, because without loyalty, there's nothing." ~ Florence Foster Jenkins
The love story between St. Clair and Florence is very tender, but certainly unconventional. Their relationship is one of utmost loyalty and shows that love can take many forms. Helberg's portrayal of McMoon offers some comic relief; he was my favorite character. There are a couple of moments in the film that will tear your heart out, and at least one other that will give you chills and make your heart smile.
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However, despite all the accolades, this film is not for everyone. It is a a true period piece with a story line that moves at a quiet pace, and, to be honest, her voice may drive some viewers mad. The film is rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material. Florence Foster Jenkins is truly a lesson in loving life and following your passions, and, although I didn't personally love the film, it was very inspirational.