‘Streep’ throat for de­luded singer

The Tribune (NZ) - - MOVIES -

Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins (PG) Di­rected by Stephen Frears 1hr 50min ★★ 1⁄ 2

Re­viewed by Peter Lampp

Three times Os­car win­ner Meryl Streep is ob­vi­ously not afraid to take on risky, odd­ball roles.

Take the case of Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins, the New York heiress and so­cialite who in the 1930s and 40s de­luded her­self that she could sing.

Her sing­ing was the sort re­served for sound-proofed bath­rooms, but the dippy old dame be­lieved she could be a con­cert so­prano.

Un­usual and ex­tra­or­di­nary as the story is it still baf­fles me why it has had so much oxy­gen. Jenk­ins, who sang like a dober­man on heat or a lone­some hyena, man­aged to at­tract au­di­ences despite be­ing de­void of tal­ent. Well, the story ob­vi­ously at­tracted film-maker Stephen Frears.

Her frame padded to panda size, the tal­ented Streep gets to play the tal­ent­less Jenk­ins, a tough ask which she con­quered in a movie that started out be­ing a com­edy be­fore mor­ph­ing into a se­ri­ous but stagey Brit drama once health com­pli­ca­tions are uncovered.

Hugh Grant as Jenk­ins’ aid­ing and abet­ting English hus- band and ac­tor St Clair Bay­field - on the phone to the New York

Post’s show­biz critic cas­ti­gat­ing him for his slag­ging, but ac­cu­rate, re­view - played it like we shouldn’t take it too se­ri­ously.

Bay­field must have seen some­thing in the delu­sional old trout who used her in­her­i­tance to war­ble like a crea­ture out of the deep­est Ama­zon.

There is a fine per­for­mance from Si­mon Heiberg as Jenk­ins’ goofy, young pi­anist-ac­com­pa­nist Cosme McCoon.

I hope Meryl had her throat med­i­cally ex­am­ined af­ter this ef­fort. She has had plenty of sing­ing roles but none as close to yo­delling as this.

Meryl Streep as de­luded singer Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins with Hugh Grant as her aid­ing and abet­ting hus­band, St Clair Bay­field.

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