My friend and I have had such fun this evening, watching Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in the film of singer Florence Foster Jenkins’ life.
I must admit I had never heard of Florence Foster Jenkins (1868 – 1944), who was a child prodigy pianist, even performing at the White House during the administration of Rutherford B. Hayes, and later earning a living as a piano teacher after an arm injury put paid to her career. However, she had a great desire to perform, and decided to become a singer, meeting actor St. Clair Bayfield who became her manager and with whom she shared a lifelong common-law relationship, eschewing the husband she married at 18 who gave her syphilis.
Florence was a terrible singer, but when her father died she inherited enough money to fund her musical career, opening ‘The Verdi Club’ and giving execrable performances which caused her to become very popular for the unwitting amusement she provided, although she was convinced of her own talent throughout her life. However, she did not let music critics buy tickets for the concerts; only her trusted club members were able to attend. She became so popular that she even gave a concert, aged 76, at Carnegie Hall, but could not stop newspaper critics from attending as it was a public event.
Meryl Streep gave a wonderful performance as Florence. I’m not sure if Meryl was singing the arias herself or miming, but I laughed all night at her efforts. She was absolutely wonderful. This film is FUNNY!