The second time the true story of the world’s worst singer has been brought to the big screen in 2016 should charm a wider audience than the artier French import, Marguerite. Meryl Streep turns on her considerable magnetism as Jenkins, who refuses to let a little thing like a terrible singing voice to stop her from realizing her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall. With her devoted husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), by her side, and accompanist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg from the inexplicably mega-popular “The Big Bang Theory”) beside her, Jenkins overcomes illness and mockery to inspire millions, like a World War II-era William Hung.
As with his previous hit, Philomena, The Queen director Stephen Frears takes a story that does not seem terribly interesting and smartly directs it so it cannot devolve into the inspirational claptrap it could easily become. Streep and the semi-retired Grant have an undeniable if slightly surprising chemistry, and their extraordinary movie-star charisma even assists Helberg in seeming less sitcom-y than he absolutely is. Do not be turned off by the generically (un)inspiring trailer; Florence Foster Jenkins has a distinct voice worth hearing.
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