Florence Foster Jenkins Blu-ray Review

Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant star in this sincere comedy about one of history’s poorest singers

Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep star in this genuine and heartfelt period comedy. Set in the New York City of 1944, a wealthy socialite sings at Carnegie Hall before thousands, living under the delusion she has a sweet voice. Based on true events, Florence Foster Jenkins is a wry comedy of manners with its heart in the right place.

Meryl Streep stars as New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, who dreams of becoming a great opera singer. While the singing voice she hears in her head is beautiful, everyone else thinks it’s atrocious. One listener compares it to the sound of a dying cow. Her husband and biggest supporter, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) is determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth of her talent. Their loving but unusual marriage truly affirms that truth is stranger than fiction.

When Florence stages a huge concert at Carnegie Hall, Bayfield faces his greatest challenge yet to make sure her performance doesn’t pop the bubble of her self-delusion. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena), Florence Foster Jenkins also stars Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) and Rebecca Ferguson.

What makes Florence Foster Jenkins work as a film is the remarkable ease with which this strange tale from history makes her oddly sympathetic. Florence Foster Jenkins was a wealthy patron of the music scene, oblivious to her own poor singing. It is only through her husband’s careful ruse that she continues to believe of her own singing talent for decades.

Bayfield tirelessly supports Florence, despite seeing a much younger girlfriend on the side. Their marriage is more an arrangement than what most people conceive of the institution. Florence supports him with her wealth and allows him to live separately, enabling Bayfield’s dalliances. Bayfield to his credit is always there when Florence needs him, paying off music critics in the press for positive reviews and arranging entire audiences that will be “appreciative” of her singing. Bayfield is always looking out for her best interests in their very unusual marriage.

Meryl Streep, a talented and accomplished singer, delights in singing her very worst

Outsiders keep the charade up since Florence’s financial support benefits them. This is perfectly illustrated by Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), a poor pianist plucked out of obscurity to accompany Florence’s private rehearsals. He soon learns to keep his mouth shut if he wants to stay employed. Florence’s insulated bubble of friends work to keep her belief alive.

Florence Foster Jenkins is a sweet, gentle comedy with fine turns by its two stars. Meryl Streep, a talented and accomplished singer, delights in singing her very worst. The legendary dramatic actor has always had a comedic side and it comes out with true delight.

The real eye-opener is Hugh Grant. Playing a frustrated actor, it’s a nicely understated performance with a nod to self awareness. Bayfield has a great moment when speaking about his own acting career, saying it became easier to accept when he realized he would never be a great actor. He settled for being a good actor. Is that a self-aware line about Grant’s own career in Hollywood? Possibly.

Florence Foster Jenkins Blu-ray screen shot 4

Video

Paramount delivers one of the year’s best-looking Blu-rays. The pitch-perfect picture quality offers a warm, inviting visual experience that should be recognized near Oscar time. The 110-minute main feature is encoded in flawless AVC on a BD-50. Presented in breathtaking 2.39:1 video at 1080P resolution, Florence Foster Jenkins is top-shelf demo material with razor-sharp definition.

The period comedy’s rich contrast and warm color palette are finely tuned. This is clean cinematography with nuanced detail and subtle color grading. The immaculate presentation has been transferred perfectly without significant processing. Bereft of CGI that could impact things, the video has nice depth and dimension. This is a finely manicured film with exquisite production values, designed to win Oscars.

Audio

Florence Foster Jenkins is heard in an outstanding 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Florence’s opera “singing” projects a wide, expansive soundstage in perfect audio clarity. She truly does sound like a dying cow at times.

The dialogue-driven sections are perfectly intelligible with fine dynamics. Some elements are pushed to the rear channels, including ambient noise from Florence’s crowds. This isn’t an aggressive mix but does an excellent job of smoothly handling the transitions from opera arias to quieter moments.

Optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles appear in a white font. They remain inside the scope presentation at all times. A Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital dub is a secondary option.

Extras

This combo set includes a DVD copy of Florence Foster Jenkins. The included UV digital copy redeems in HDX at UltraViolet providers. A separate iTunes digital copy is also included. Early pressings include a slipcover.

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes (06:08 in HD) – Four mostly inconsequential scenes that don’t alter the film’s message.
  • “Ours is a Happy World” (05:01 in HD) – A glossy look back at the movie with cast and crew. This is a shallow making-of featurette mixing interviews with clips and some behind-the-scenes footage.
  • The Music and Songs of Florence (04:01 in HD) – A featurette focusing on the historical woman’s terrible singing.
  • Designing the Look (03:43 in HD) – Production designer and costume designer discuss their goals working on this movie.
  • From Script to Screen (04:18 in HD)
  • Florence Foster Jenkins World Premiere (01:58 in HD)
  • Q&A with Meryl Streep (16:06 in HD) – A chummy Q&A with the actress from June 2016.
  • Live at Carnegie Hall (10:09 in HD) – Carnegie Hall’s Archives director talks about his experience working there and recounts Florence Foster Jenkins’ history.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not influenced DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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