The worst singer in the world (Florence Foster Jenkins movie review)

“People may say I can’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing” – says Florence Foster Jenkins (amazing Meryl Streep) from the hospital bed after reading a devastating review of her biggest concert, which became both – a huge failure and even more spectacular success. Stephen Frears, a director of biographical comedy about a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera diva, despite of having a truly terrible singing voice, constructs a beautiful, heartwarming, but slightly bent, apotheosis of passion that has no boundaries and is stronger than objective limitations.

The presented world is a reminiscence of a forgotten land of splendour and magnificence of countesses and counts. The director creates reality that is made of tinsel. Aesthetics that dominates in his movie seem to be a camp mix of kitschy wellness and plethora, but it has its charm that now can be found only in opera houses. Florence’s residency seems to be abstracted from a normative space-time continuum. Its residents and guests are aware of war, but they remain on the utopian side of reality, in which piano is louder than bombs. Not without a reason Florence’s husband (charming Hugh Grant) keeps repeating “we are happy here”.

The protagonist is presented as a lovely old lady whose heart is even bigger than her impressive wealth. She makes impression of a spoilt, peeled away from reality, and slightly mad rich heiress, but in fact she is a smart, sensitive woman, who spreads love and passion. Her friends and relatives protect her from the brutality of ordinary world and let her believe in her musical talent.  Some of them do so because of their personal interests, others because they truly love her. In the beginning you might think that Florence’s dream of being an opera diva is just an insane whim of a deluded, spoiled lady, but the director slowly reveals different side of the protagonist’s desires. His comedy becomes a wonderful tale of passion that always let you look at the brighter side of life.

Momentary Frears’s movie gets too sugary, but on the other hand – it has a lot of truly moving moments. The last Florence’s concert is one of the most beautiful scenes of the whole picture. Drunken soldiers, who after honest laughing at the protagonist’s lack of talent start to clap their hands, become a symbol of a power of love. They don’t change their opinions of Florence’s voice, but they begin to admire the singer because of her comical potential and authentic passion. What’s important, the director constructs an apotheosis of passion, not delusion, and that makes his movie valuable and worth of watching.