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'Florence Foster Jenkins' delivers comedy and emotion in perfect harmony: 3.5 stars

'Florence Foster Jenkins' delivers comedy and emotion in perfect harmony: 3.5 stars

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant say the characters they play in "Florence Foster Jenkins" loved each other deeply, even though their marriage wasn't ideal.

Florence Foster Jenkins would never let anyone dissuade her from living her dreams, not even her beloved and well-intentioned husband, St. Clair Bayfield, an attitude Streep thinks anyone can learn to share.

The three-time Academy Award victor is now promoting her new movie Florence Foster Jenkins, in which she plays a not-so talented opera singer dying to sing at Carnegie Hall. A mildly roguish minor Shakespearean actor, his duties as her utterly devoted spouse include paying off music critics at her private recitals to provide rave notices for her off-key, off-pitch vocals, which sound like she's being strangled.

Hugh Grant simply feels that marriage can be "unromantic". It's worth seeing for that admirable quality alone, though I daresay you'll enjoy all of it. So we asked her what she is dying to do onstage. We see the tremendous lengths to which Bayfield and others in Florence's elite social circle go to protect-and enable-her.

Meryl Streep has proven her singing ability time and again, so it seems more than a bit perverse to cast her as one of the worst opera singers in recorded history, which is what Florence Foster Jenkins does. Meryl Streep, who really can sing, is simply great as Jenkins. Famed conductors such as Arturo Toscanini (John Kavanagh) and Carlo Edwards (a very amusing David Haig) flatter her vanity and take her checks but conveniently disappear when she sings in public.

Meryl Streep stars in this biographical dramedy set in 1944 about a woman sometimes described as the worst opera singer in the world.

"Florence Foster Jenkins" is a one-joke movie, but it's a pretty good joke, and the fact that it's based on a true story only makes the gag more delicious. It just comes in every once in awhile with some glaring headline about something frightful happening - there's so many analogies to now - figuring out what makes life worth living.

Gradually, you realise, not only is the guy a much bigger star than me, he's maybe the richest man I've ever met'. Still that didn't stop her as the film's signature line says, "they can say I couldn't sing but they can't say I didn't". "I'm still learning. When I first started, I wish I knew then to trust myself more, really". "I believe that he properly loved Florence and she loved him, and it was a moving 35-year romance". I kind of bluffed to [Director] Stephen Frears when he was very eager to find somebody that could do this, and I just thought "I can at least put my hands in the right places"...

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