Florence Foster Jenkins 2016 ***

Coming alongside France’s more sophisticated Marguerite, Florence Foster Jenkins found itself in a rare dog-fight of competing ‘films about opera singers who can’t sing’. That Stephen Frears’ film came out on top is no surprise due to the star-power of Meryl Streep, buried under padding but still able to hit the correct bum notes on cue. But the surprises here are the supporting roles, with The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg giving a lovely comic turn as the gauche pianist, and from Hugh Grant as Jenkins’s long-suffering husband; his wildly enthusiastic dancing routine is one of 2016’s more memorable scenes. For Frears, it’s yet another in his series of films about offbeat entrepreneurial double-acts; from Mrs Henderson Presents to My Beautiful Laundrette, he’s carved a niche in capturing the fragile relationships of those bonded by unusual goals.


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