Florence Foster Jenkins was to singing as Donald Trump is to presidential politics: Both are rancid fish out of water. But in the biopic “Florence Foster Jenkins,” director Stephen Frears turns the society matron Jenkins as played by Meryl Streep into a sympathetic character.
By the end of the film, we want her to succeed even though she sounds like a bull moose in heat.
FFJ borrows much from actors of the 1940s with Streep a dead ringer for Margaret Dumont of Marx Brothers fame and Nina Ariana stealing scenes reminiscent of the tough blonde Iris Adrian in several Monogram and PRC films of yore.
Big Bang star TV actor Simon Helberg plays off the Streep’s over the top matron with ease and is a revelation.
The danger in making a Jenkins film is that her life was a one-line joke: she couldn’t sing. But Frears and writer Nicholas Desplat have turned the focus on a universal desire to realize life long desires and aspirations. She is the Rocky Balboa of bad music.