Meryl Streep is looking a little different from when we last saw her. She has traded her dreads and guitar from ‘Ricki & The Flash’ for a tiara and a ticket to the opera here in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’. We all know that Streep is a fantastic actress and she has such versatility however the films she stars in don’t always match the standard of her performances. Maybe this wouldn’t be the case with ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’, could it be Streep’s best film in years?
As a whole I found the overall performances from the cast to be rather cartoonish. Streep gets away with this due to the eccentricity of the title character but I feel that others don’t. For example Simon Helberg, who most will know as Howard from ‘The Big Bang Theory’, is so animated that his performance becomes particularly irritating within his very first scenes. He is consistent with this style of performance throughout the film which leads me to conclude that this was a directing decision rather than an acting one. Nonetheless I found the believability of the whole thing difficult to accept due to the nature of several performances. Hugh Grant fares slightly better and for me held everything together, without his involvement I may have lost my mind watching this. Another result of the performances was that I really couldn’t warm to any of the characters. This was of course a problem as I really didn’t care about any of them or about the on going debate of whether or not to tell Madame Florence about her lack of vocal ability.
Many of my opinions on this film have undoubtedly been shaped by my viewing of ‘Marguerite’ only last month. This is a french film which takes inspiration from the life of Jenkins and has created a much more entertaining and stimulating film. Naturally because of this I struggled with the narrative here as it was so familiar and just not as engaging. I imagine that this won’t be an issue for anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Marguerite’ but the unfortunately close release dates for both films really did affect my enjoyment here. The comedy elements also suffered for me personally however once again those going in with no prior knowledge should enjoy themselves. The other people in my screening were certainly finding the film funny and weren’t holding back the laughter. As the film reaches its finale it does begin to pull more and more for the emotional reactions of the audience however for me the lack of engagement I found with the characters due to the animated performances meant that I really didn’t connect at all with these moments. They do progress slightly from the beginning of the film but not enough to combat the issues I had with the rest of the film.
Despite all this I would reccomend this film to most, it should appeal to the masses and has a very Hollywood feel to it. However for anyone who has seen ‘Marguerite’ I couldn’t do the same. I just don’t see the relevance for this film, it comes across as being quite tacky in comparison to the very authentic feeling of the foreign film. As a result ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ dragged by for me simply being a watered down version of ‘Marguerite’ at every turn meaning that for me the bum notes were less comical and charming and more headache inducing.
Rating – 5/10
Question: Are then any foreign film alternatives that you prefer to the British or American versions?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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