By Kaydee Donohoo
Based on a true story, “Florence Foster Jenkins” answers the questions of what happens when a great passion for opera music comes from an eccentric personality with no talent, yet with enough money to get away with it.
No longer able to play the piano from illness, Florence (Meryl Streep) performs the other form of music she has passion for by singing opera. With an understanding husband, a patient pianist, and rich music enthusiasts who find her charming, Florence is able to give concerts with the illusion that she isn’t without the talent to do so. She is even able to sell out in Carnegie Hall.
Much of the film is extremely heartwarming. It’s a display of the lengths people will go to if they love you- and have the money to get away with outlandish things. Ultimately it’s a sympathetic character, who you just really want to succeed.
Thank you, Meryl Streep, for showing me what it would be like if I were to try and sing opera. As a casual operatic fan I recognized the major songs that Meryl was singing- or destroying. I’m often listening to the Bell aria from “Lakmé” and The Queen of the Night aria from “The Magic Flute.” I, however, knowing I can’t sing well normally, haven’t even pretended to try to sing them. I can’t imagine giving it my all and continuing on despite being flat and off-key. It’s a tragedy really, that so many opera fans couldn’t come close to recreating what they love. However, this often unattainable standard is part of what makes it art.
It is also what makes Florence remarkable in an entirely different way than a talented singer.
A large factor in what made this film great was the actor Simon Helberg, who really does play the piano. Those familiar with “The Big Bang Theory” will of course recognize him as Howard. As Florence’s accompanist he has a large role in the film, adding an important comedic presence and an endearing friendship.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” came out a month ago, and while it is not playing everywhere, you should definitely find a theater that has it.