Suspension of Disbelief: In Which Silly Women are Managed by Men, Florence Foster Jenkins (the Movie)
Florence Foster Jenkins is my second favorite opera singer of all time ever (beaten by Juilie D’aubigny) because she is a tribute to that which may be accomplished with money, connections, and a complete lack of self-awareness. Of course I went to the movie based on her life, because I always patronize biopics of people I adore. I am always disappointed. I have learned nothing.
The writers could have explored why we are as fascinated by terrible performances as by good (as noted in the credits, our heroine’s Carnegie Hall concert is their most requested recording), or explored classism by introducing an amazingly talented singer without our heroine’s money or connections. Instead, we get a tired and trope-y tale of a dying heroine attempting against all odds to go out with a magnificent concert while her husband takes credit for her struggle against all odds.The Carnegie Hall Concert scene was excellent, I will say that. The movie displayed many of the ridiculous costumes that the actual Florence Foster Jenkins was famous for, and Meryl Streep did an excellent job of singing like the real Florence.Then, of course, we cut back to the inevitable teary bed scene after Florence finds out from newspaper reviews that she is the Worst Singer in the World. I could not bring myself to care about her husband’s tears at this point. I was just so disgusted that at a movie about a woman ended up being about her husband treating that woman like a silly child.
I enjoyed the credits. They included actual audio clips and pictures of Florence Foster Jenkins. That was fun.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons