Hitting all the right notes

The internet can be a dangerous thing. I knew of Florence Foster Jenkins, but I did not know about her until I typed her name into a search engine.

 

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS

Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Rebecca Ferguson, Mark Arnold, Simon Helberg, John Kavanagh, Nina Arianda, David Haig, John Sessions
Rating: (PG)
Five (out of five)

 

The person I knew vaguely as a figure of fun emerged as an oddly heroic battler and I was not sure that I wanted to see her treated as comic relief in a movie.

Florence Foster Jenkins is directed by Stephen Frears, the man who got us to consider The Queen as one of us, so revealing the humanity of Florence Foster Jenkins must have seemed easy.

Meryl Streep, in the title role, has a wonderful time whooping it up as the deluded socialite who thought she could sing.

Her performance, however, retains a subtlety that stops it being cruel.

While there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, at its core this film is about a touching, but strange, love affair.

St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), her devoted husband, seems just a tiny step away from a gigolo.

Knowing how good Grant is you keep waiting for the mask to drop but in casting Grant, Frears has pulled off a classic double bluff.

Most of us know Grant can act, and by the end of the movie we believe that Bayfield is as devoted as he always said he was.

I also searched St Clair Bayfield on the internet, and it turns out he spent time in New Zealand as a young man, so it makes sense that he would be one of the good guys.

But do yourselves a favour and see the film before googling the details.

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