Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson, Nina Arianda, Christian McKay
Directed By: Stephen Frears
Meryl Streep is pretty much excellent in everything. She’s the greatest living actress, and every time she steps foot on screen, her roles immediately get some form of Oscar buzz. That’s how good she is. She might actually be the greatest living actor or actress, though that gets a bit more debatable. How many actors can you think of that instantly generate Oscar buzz for every role? Leonardo DiCaprio, maybe? But even Tom Hanks doesn’t get Oscar buzz for nearly every role. She’s pretty consistent, and she turns in another great performance here. So, why didn’t I love this film?
I don’t know, but this film felt more like a Hugh Grant movie than a Meryl Streep movie. When the film is titled Florence Foster Jenkins, but we see more of the film through his eyes than hers, I suppose it led to some disappointment on my part. Don’t get me wrong, I think Hugh Grant did some exceptional work here, as did Simon Helberg, but unlike her past efforts, she seems to take an unnecessary backseat to Grant, and is used more as a prop. Because of this, her character lacks some development, and is absent more than she should be.
I think that’s probably what held it back from being a “great” film, was that our titular character never truly evolved on her own, and we were stuck seeing her through her interactions with Grant or Helberg. I think if we had seen her more on her own, it would have helped the film. She never got to be her own woman, really.
I appreciate the work that Helberg put forth, but his character at times can be a bit grating. It’s not a character I’d want to watch an entire movie about. The rest of the supporting cast is fine, but there really aren’t any standouts.
It’s a nice distraction from the loud action movies of the summer, but it falls short of being in the top tier of Meryl Streep roles or films. It, however, might be in the top for Hugh Grant, who has a smaller pool to draw from. Either way, it’s worth watching, just not worth rushing out to see.
FINAL GRADE: B+