ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"Florence Foster Jenkins" Movie Review

Updated on January 3, 2020
popcollin profile image

Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life, he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).

Florence Foster Jenkins
Florence Foster Jenkins | Source

From Miranda Priestly to Karen von Blixen to Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep has played her fair share of memorable roles, and though her titular performance in Florence Foster Jenkins may not be her best work (Sophie’s Choice will never be topped), it’s certainly right up there in the “memorable” department.

It’s only surprising that Jenkins herself isn’t more memorable.

Regarded as the worst professional singer in history, Jenkins made her mark (and she did make her mark) in the 40s, during the height of World War II. She was, first and foremost, a benefactor of the arts, but she always fancied herself a singer, and she had plenty of encouragers/enablers around her to make her dream happen--despite the fact that she sounded like Julia Child imitating a strangled cat...underwater...if Julia Child was tone-deaf…and drunk.

Of course, Jenkins thought she was in the same realm as the era’s finest sopranos; if ignorance truly is bliss, Jenkins must have been the happiest woman in the world.

Chief among Jenkins’ supporters in the film is her common-law husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), a former actor who dropped his dreams to do everything possible to make sure hers come true; often this requires not only stacking the audience with Jenkins’ accommodating friends but also bribing critics or even writing their reviews himself.

Before Jenkins’ first performance, however, Bayfield is required to hire a pianist to accompany his wife. Enter Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg). In what may be the film’s most memorable (and hilarious) scene, McMoon gets his introduction to Jenkins as she warbles and screeches her way through an aria. Fully expecting a virtuoso performance (Jenkins is being tutored--and endured--by Met conductor Carlo Edwards at the time), McMoon is dumbfounded by what he hears. Helberg steals the scene with a barrage of nuanced facial expressions ranging from shock to puzzlement to laugh-stifling incredulity. It’s a brilliant moment and one that fairly sums up the entire movie from the audience’s perspective. We are McMoon, and by the end of the film we have also come to not only endure Jenkins ourselves but fully love and support her...despite her egregious lack of talent.

Director Stephen Frears (Philomena) has put together a surprising, charming film. Not only does is successfully bring mid-40s New York City to life, it somehow allows the audience to simultaneously laugh at and sympathize with Jenkins. And Streep’s performance is truly magical. What she did for Polish accents in Sophie’s Choice she does for Jenkins’ hopelessly awful singing here. But it’s not a case of mimicry, it’s an all-in, heartfelt portrayal of a complex woman (who was also suffering the late stages of a decades-old case of syphilis as all this was going on), and it’s worth more than one “Bravo!”


Streep has given plenty of awfully talented performances in her 40-year career, but she’s never been called upon to portray someone with such an awful lack of talent. With Florence Foster Jenkins she proves once again why she is America’s greatest living actress--she’s the only one who can do bad so well.


4/5 stars

'Florence Foster Jenkins' trailer


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)