‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Hits a High Note

‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ layers an era of music over a deep and innate sense of the human condition, and it’s enough to keep you basking in its grandeur.

‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ sheds a spotlight on the dividing line of power and passion.

florence foster jenkins
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

How does one embrace enthusiasm over ability? Better yet, can you really put a price on such passions? Well, for the price of a movie ticket, Florence Foster Jenkins hopes to be your definitive cheat sheet.

Early on, we meet the leading lady, Mrs. Jenkins (Meryl Streep), performing a show for a wide array of her so-called “fans.” Then, as the curtains come down, we become aware of her right-hand man, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant). Bayfield stops at nothing to keep the spotlight on Florence over an imminent abyss of criticism, especially since Mrs. Jenkins’s aspirations create a self-served illusion of aptitude.

Even when hiring a full-time pianist by the name of Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), Florence is provoked to tackle the largest and most spacious of venues, all the way up to New York’s widely-acclaimed Carnegie Hall. Nevertheless, between the secret of Mrs. Jenkin’s “talent” and the mistress that Bayfield carries out on the side, it becomes quite transparent early-on that Florence Foster Jenkins isn’t necessarily just about the music.

This new biopic goes through as many costume changes as the honorary heroine, bridging romance, drama and comedy with a theatrically compelling twist: success in the midst of failure. Furthermore, Florence Foster Jenkins embodies a driving fervor that beats out any monetary expense, a sense of adoration so prevalent that the lavish lifestyles portrayed in this period piece perfectly blanket its vulnerabilities. In other words, splendor might act as a dominant layer; yet, director Stephen Frears manipulates the flaws in us all within the film’s underbelly. All the while, Florence Foster Jenkins leaves its audience begging for more, making us realize our own conscious battles in the process.

“I would want to see this movie because it’s a true story,” said Patti Stuiso, both a Nutley native and a long-time fan of Hugh Grant films. “It’s a ‘comeback kid’ kind of movie, which I am extremely fond of, and it looks really interesting.”

The acting was phenomenal, the set/costume design exuberated the era of the story’s setting (which is an understatement, for sure) and the story’s claim of authenticity is enough to glue one’s eyeballs to the screen (which it most certainly did). However, Florence Foster Jenkins deserves to be remembered for its core, the all-encompassing heart of the picture that beats out adoration for one’s very own adorations. The protagonist reminds us that we’re all defective in more ways than one, but maybe it’s for the better. In the end, we might just end up on a high note. Just like Florence.

Florence Foster Jenkins is now playing in movie theaters worldwide. Some more local venues include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Loews Wayne 14 and even Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas in the heart of downtown Montclair! For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today.

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