DRAMA; 1hr 50min
STARRING: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg
Flat out: Streep
"Music matters," New York heiress and patroness of musical causes Florence Foster Jenkins (Streep) avers in 1944 with aching sincerity. It could be said the lady is surely kidding her winsome, obsessive self. For one thing, she and her attentive husband, actor St Clair Bayfield (Grant), aren't actually married: in fact, he lives with his girlfriend (Rebecca Ferguson). Then, too, Florence, for whom music is the breath of life, mangles every operatic piece she wraps her straining vocal chords around. Her new accompanist, Cosmé McMoon (Helberg, irresistibly arch), can scarcely believe what he is hearing.
Ah, but! Bayfield sincerely cares for Florence, her doting friends protect her from herself, her wealth is another buffer against life's crueller abasements and her buoyant spirit steers her ship of fools to the heights of Carnegie Hall. So there!
Florence first took to the stage in 2015 in the poignantly fictionalised Marguerite. Opting here for positivity, for the most part, director Stephen Frears has softened the edges of his truth-based account. And so it is that while love and support deflect howls of derision, a fluidly emotional Streep makes a captivating fantasist, blissfully cocooned in her batty illusion.