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Florence Foster Jenkins is curiously inspiring – and stars Kelvingrove

By on May 12, 2016
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Gloriously entertaining, Florence Foster Jenkins “celebrates the human spirit, the power of music and the passion of amateurs”, writes Ruth Allen.

And it puts Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – posing as New York’s Carnegie Hall – firmly in the spotlight …

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (PG)

(Run time: 110mins; Director: Stephen Frears; Cast: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson)

 Synopsis: World renowned as a virtuosic pianist, Florence Foster Jenkins has a new dream: to become a famous opera singer. Her voice, however, leaves a lot to be desired and she becomes famous for her lack of talent. Despite constant criticism from her peers and audiences which Florence’s manager and partner St. Clair Bayfield endeavours to keep from her, Florence battles on and with St. Clair’s help, she conquers the New York stage to become a household name.  www.pathe.co.uk

Director Stephen Frears [Philomena (2013), The Queen (2006), The Program (2015), High Fidelity (2000)] directs this curiously inspiring true story of the legendary New York heiress, socialite and patron of the arts who dreamed of becoming an opera singer despite having a voice which was far from bel canto. 

Meryl Streep gives a gloriously entertaining performance as Florence Foster Jenkins, the eponymous matronly heroine who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great opera singer. The voice she heard in her head was beautiful but to everyone else it was hilariously awful.

Her “husband” and manager, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant in perhaps his best ever role) an aristocratic English actor, was determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth. But when Florence decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, St Clair knew he faced his greatest challenge.

The film has a witty script from Nicholas Martin and meticulous mise-en-scène recreating wartime New York with UK cities doubling as locations – including streets in Glasgow and the city’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum replicating the exterior of Carnegie Hall. 

Interior sequences of the sold-out Carnegie Hall concert were shot in the Hammersmith Apollo, London.

The superb supporting cast includes Simon Helberg as Cosmé McMoon, the concert pianist and composer who became Florence’s accompanist and Rebecca Ferguson as Kathleen, St Clair Bayfield’s lover.

Despite the hilarity, it is revealed that Florence had overcome great personal tragedies but never lost sight of pursuing her dream, and this film celebrates the human spirit, the power of music and the passion of amateurs everywhere.

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