Florence Foster Jenkins
Paramount // PG-13 // $39.99 // December 13, 2016
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted December 21, 2016
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Highly Recommended
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Florence Foster Jenkins Blu-ray Review

Florence Foster Jenkins is the true story of a woman who, in 1944, became a successful opera singer despite many critics labeling her as the "worst singer of all time". Though critics felt Florence Foster Jenkins had a terrible singing voice she had a great passion for singing and music. Produced by Tracey Seaward (War Horse) and Michael Kuhn (Being John Malkovich), Florence Foster Jenkins stars Meryl Streep. Streep delivers one of her career-best performances.

Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) is a singer and all-around eccentric lady. The only food she'll even eat is sandwiches and potato salad. She's also a wealthy heiress, suffering from a long-term case of syphilis (which she contracted from her first husband). Despite her illness, Florence remains full of life and maintains a desire to sing. She became famous as a singer, though many believed her singing voice to be awful.

She later married St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant),  her current husband and music "producer" who helps to arrange her performances. Though Bayfield clearly has strong affection for Florence he has a mistress, Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson), who he lives with in a separate apartment. He also arranges many of Florence's performances to only be attended by "real music fans" who are either friends of Florence or fans of her "gusto" because he doesn't want audiences erupting with laughter at her singing.

Florence decides that she wants to get back into the opera music world and she takes new lessons after a period away from the singing world. She enlists the help of Carlo Edwards (David Haig) for her vocal lessons. Edwards, who works with the Metropolitan Opera, merely encourages Florence and asks that Bayfield not tell anyone he's coaching her vocals. Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), a young pianist, auditions as her pianist and quickly receives the job. Flabbergasted by her entirely off-key singing voice, the bumbling McMoon nonetheless continues to work with her. After some smaller performances, Florence books a one-night performance at the famous Carnegie Hall. The rest... is history.

The production design for the film is by Alan MacDonald (The Queen, Philomena). This is one of the most impressive elements of the production. The stages and sets are fantastic. It really is believable in recreating the 1940's time-period. This is a gorgeous production that adds a great deal to the filmmaking.

Costumes were designed by Consolata Boyle (The Queen, The Iron Lady). The efforts are quite superb. Meryl wears a number of elaborate dresses and the other supporting cast members are given strong costumes for their parts as well. The work feels quite fitting for the production.

The cinematography is by Danny Cohen (The King's Speech, Les Misérables, Room, The Danish Girl). This is a lush and colorful production with great cinematography: crisp, beautiful, and so vibrant. The effort really helps everything to shine. The music score composed by Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The King's Speech, Argo) also adds to the emotional tone of the story. Desplat's great musical compositions help compliment the weight of the filmmaking.

The screenplay was written by Nicholas Martin (Midsomer Murders). The script helps adds a lot of great humor to the overall experience of the film. The film is equally funny, heartfelt, and moving. That it is able to blend together the tragedy and the comedy of the story so well is a testament to the good writing. The characters are vibrant and entertaining. This is certainly something witty and charming as a story.

Directed by Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Philomena), the film is both wonderfully funny and achingly tender as a drama. Frears helps bring forth one of Streep's best performances in her career. The film has great supporting performances as well. The production is high quality throughout and the end result is a film that works magnificently well. This is in large part because of the terrific direction of Frears. Florence Foster Jenkins is must-see cinema.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Florence Foster Jenkins is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p High Definition MPEG-4 AVC encode. The film is presented in the original 2.39: 1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. This is certainly a beautiful presentation of the film. The video has excellent clarity and depth. Color reproduction is astonishing . Florence Foster Jenkins is such a beautiful looking film and this is a strong presentation of it. Fans will not be disappointed by the release.

Audio:

The audio is presented in lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is a quality lossless audio presentation. The surround sound music is dynamic and enthralling. The score also sounds terrific. Dialogue is easy to understand. This is a strong presentation of the audio mix.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.


Extras:

Please Note:  This is a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital UV Combo Pack.

"Ours is a Happy World" (5 min.) is a behind the scenes featurette about the making of the film featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

The Music and Songs of Florence (4 min.) focuses on the history of Florence's songs and story.

Designing the Look (4 min.) focuses on the film's costume designs.

Question and Answer with Meryl Streep (16 min.) is a sit-down discussion with the beloved actress about her work on the film.

World Premiere of Florence Foster Jenkins (2 min.) features interviews taken from the world premiere of the film.

From Script to Screen (4 min.) focuses on the script and the story of Florence Foster Jenkins.

Live at Carnegie Hall (10 min.) discusses the history of performances at Carnegie Hall and the singers and performers who have performed there over the years (including Florence Foster Jenkins). The history of the Hall is discussed. The concert hall eventually began to archive its history with concert tickets, brochures, posters, and more (many of which was sent to them from fans).

Deleted Scenes (6 min.) features four deleted sequences which were removed from the final cut of the film.

Final Thoughts:

Florence Foster Jenkins is great fun and deeply moving as well. Meryl Streep is magnetic in her role. The film is a must-see for fans of period dramas with a dose of great comedy thrown into the mix. It is highly inspirational and one of the best films of the year.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic as well with excellent PQ/AQ and a fun assortment of extras. Worth a purchase for fans of the film.

Highly Recommended.



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