Florence Foster Jenkins
Meryl Streep stars as the notorious socialite and musical dilettante whose terrible singing made her a legend among the patronizing cognoscenti of 1940s New York. Streep is as brilliant as ever, and in his more subdued way, so is Hugh Grant as her devoted companion and manager St. Clair Bayfield. But the movie tries to have it both ways, inviting us to guffaw with ridicule, then trying to shame us into admiration. Nicholas Martin’s script strikes almost as many false notes as Florence ever did (e.g., Earl Wilson was a nightlife columnist, not a music critic; and Bayfield was a professional actor, not a hammy amateur). With the aid of director Stephen Frears, Streep rises above her text and manages to earn the sympathy Martin so clumsily demands for her. J.L.