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CULTURE | 28.07.2016

Movie Night: „Florence Foster Jenkins“ starring Meryl Streep

“Her rich bank account made up for what she lacked in talent.” This statement applied to New Yorker Florence Foster Jenkins more than anyone else. Her inherited wealth enabled her to experience an opera career without being able to even carry a tune. And what is more: In 1944 she even performed in the sold-out Carnegie Hall, playing a record of her scarily screechy arias.

Now cult director Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) memorializes this unwavering dreamer in a movie starring a wonderfully nuanced Meryl Streep in the title role. At her side: Hugh Grant as St. Clair Bayfield, an actor and Jenkin’s husband and manager, who tried his best to keep people’s malice and scathing newspaper reviews from her. A sentimental, tragicomic story about desire, reality and the gray areas in between.

The film’s fashion is interesting too: costume designer Consolata Boyle (“The Iron Lady”) based her designs on photographs of Foster Jenkins that captured her wayward, exuberant style: somewhere in between Mexican grand dame and eighteenth-century ball gowns. The self-proclaimed opera diva with her scratchy voice even had a pair of angel wings fashioned for one of her concerts.

Consolata Boyle: “She was a supreme performer, so her clothes were gorgeously outrageous. They were high camp but with a softness so she drew people in. And she had no embarrassment about how she looked.” In order to make Meryl Streep’s narrow figure resemble the fuller stature of the wealthy siren, Boyle stuffed her clothes with a few extra pounds of filler.

The film “Florence Foster Jenkins” started in the UK in early May, will premiere in the US in August and will be on view in German cinemas on November 24.