A cu­ri­ous sub­ject

Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins PG, 1hr 50min ★★ 1⁄2Re­viewed by Peter Lampp

The Tribune (NZ) - - WHAT'S ON -

Meryl Streep must be sat­u­rated with film of­fers, and yet she is ob­vi­ously not afraid to take on risky, odd­ball roles.

Maybe af­ter win­ning three Academy Awards she can af­ford to branch out.

Such a role is that of Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins’, the New York heiress and so­cialite who in the 1930s and 40s de­luded her­self that she could sing.

Streep had to have her frame padded to panda size and the por­trayal re­quired her to sing like a dober­man on heat or a lone­some hyena.

Her singing was of the type re­served for sound-proof bath­rooms, but the dippy old dame be­lieved she could be a so­prano. Streep, though, will al­ways pull the pun­ters and this was a tough act­ing role, which she con­quered.

Early on it seemed to be a com­edy, but then mor­phed into a se­ri­ous Bri­tish drama as an ill­ness was re­vealed.

The whole film was acted in stage show fash­ion, no­tably by Hugh Grant as English hus­band and ac­tor St Clair Bay­field. The act­ing al­most sug­gested to me we shouldn’t take it too se­ri­ously.

It might be an un­usual, ex­tra­or­di­nary story but baf­flesme why it has had so much oxy­gen.

Jenk­ins at­tracted au­di­ences even though she was de­void of tal­ent and the story ob­vi­ously at­tracted film-maker Stephen Frears.

He must have seen some­thing in a delu­sional old trout who used her in­her­i­tance to learn to war­ble like some­thing out of the deep­est Ama­zon. There is a fine per­for­mance from Si­mon Heiberg as Jenk­ins’ goofy, young pi­anist-ac­com­pa­nist Cosme McCoon.

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