Meryl Streep has assumed all manner of accents and mannerisms (and Kurt Russells) to play real-life characters (and approximations) throughout her career, but her latest film sees her feigning a significant lack of talent to embody the biopic’s subject. Streep plays the titular socialite in Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman of poor singing ability who nonetheless made a name for herself as a singer, thanks to her substantial means.
Jenkins was either unaware of or indifferent to her lack of pitch or rhythm, and blithely charged her way through many performances at a time when the glitterati were seemingly happy to listen to a tuneless hack (which we’re pretty sure hasn’t happened since). But her vast fortune and longtime partner St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) shielded her from any criticism (it’s even rumored she personally wrote any positive reviews). Through her halfhearted work and persistence, Jenkins proved that the way to Carnegie Hall is inheritance, inheritance, inheritance.
Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity), Florence Foster Jenkins debuts May 6.