Florence Foster Jenkins

Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins is a likable study of delusions of grandeur. Working from real-life material, Frears creates an alternately funny and mysterious portrait of someone whom most viewers either don’t know at all or regard as an odd footnote in musical history — Jenkins (Meryl Streep) was a society woman who loved music and was convinced that she could sing, even though her warble sounded like the pained yelpings of a dog. There is subversive pleasure in seeing Streep, consistently considered one of the best actresses, playing someone consistently remembered as one of the worst singers. The film cares more about the insular qualities of class than than about trying to make Jenkins’ story inspirational or universal. Florence thinks her voice deserves to be heard because she is wealthy, and no one tells her otherwise. She works with musicians and plays concerts because she can afford to, and financial control is a menacing, seductive force that reaches a head when her husband (Hugh Grant) bribes a newspaper salesman into letting him throw out copies of a paper with a negative review of his wife’s infamous Carnegie Hall performance. So how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Not with practice, but with money and delusion. We hear the voice she hears in her head, a melodic and pretty thing. It’s cruel: We see her delusions and know that while she was living her dream, audiences couldn’t help but laugh. As she records her vanity album, she smiles after a particularly screechy note: “That sounded perfect to me.” Whether or not that’s all that matters is anyone’s guess.



  • Stephen Frears


  • Meryl Streep
  • Hugh Grant
  • Rebecca Ferguson
  • Simon Helberg
  • Nina Arianda
  • Neve Gachev
  • David Haig


  • Nicholas Martin


  • Tracey Seaward
  • Michael Kuhn

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