• by Wes Singleton

Florence Foster Jenkins, B+

Rated PG-13, 110 minutes

I am one to fully admit upfront that I do not possess a strong talent for singing (except in my car, with no one around), but that certainly didn't stop one New York City socialite from achieving her dreams as a singer. The new, fact-based biographical dramedy "Florence Foster Jenkins" is a delightful, superbly acted tale that hits all the right notes and tugs the heart strings in perfect harmony, thanks to its lead actress. Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), an heiress in New York who owns a music club and lives for music, aspires to become an opera singer with the help of her husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) and her pianist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), despite her generally poor singing ability. Directed by "The Queen's Stephen Frears and written by Nicholas Martin, the charming, thoroughly enjoyable "Florence Foster Jenkins" has enough courage and heart to outshine its main character's musical ineptitude. The acclaimed Streep gives another fearless, brilliant performance as the plucky socialite whose ambition was clearly secondary to her terrible singing voice. Yes, it's a hammy part for sure, but Streep is perfectly bad as Foster Jenkins, and its her brave, touching turn her that holds the movie together, for without her, it wouldn't be near as good; she's well-supported by "About a Boy's" Grant, who has his best role as Foster Jenkins' husband, though their unusual marital relationship proved that he was more supporter and manager than spouse, as well as "The Big Bang Theory's" Helberg as Foster Jenkins' soft-spoken but genuinely gifted pianist. The film is filled with many terrific and genuinely funny scenes, and Streep is so good at being a lousy singer (and this is way early to be saying this), I wouldn't be at all surprised if she was once again nominated for an Oscar. "Foster Jenkins" also has some terrific reaction shots (in one of the movie's scenes at the first - and Helberg and Grant's reactions in particular - as we first hear one of Streep's terrible solos). Frears has a tendency to play a couple of scenes for screwball laughs, which is isn't the best idea given the film's soft tone, and he barely is able to reign in Streep from chewing the scenery, but otherwise "Florence Foster Jenkins," which also has some nice clothes and sets that evoke 1940's New York City, is pure delight, and the film's last line, "they may have said that I couldn't sing, but never said I didn't sing," will stay with you. Recommended as a nice, late summer fling from spies and superheroes.

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