“There’s work to be done … but you’ve never sounded better,” says David Haig, looking on the bright side as the title character’s vocal coach in the upcoming film “Florence Foster Jenkins” (watch the clip above). “There is no one quite like you,” he concludes. That’s putting it mildly.
Directed by Stephen Frears, “Florence” stars Meryl Streep as the real-life American singer renowned for her terrible singing. You can hear her strain for a high note in the clip above, but playing a bad singer is actually a creative stretch for Streep, who has demonstrated her impressive vocal chops in films including “Mamma Mia!,” “A Prairie Home Companion” and her Oscar-nominated turns in “Postcards from the Edge” and “Into the Woods.”
Streep has been nominated for a record 19 Oscars in her career, winning three: Best Actress for “Sophie’s Choice” (1982) and “The Iron Lady” (2011), and Best Supporting Actress in “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979). Teaming with director Frears could be her ticket to a 20th nomination; in the past he has directed Best Actress-nominated performances by Glenn Close (“Dangerous Liaisons,” 1988), Anjelica Huston (“The Grifters,” 1990) and Judi Dench (“Mrs. Henderson Presents” in 2005 and “Philomena” in 2013), and he directed Helen Mirren to a Best Actress victory in “The Queen” (2006).
Featured alongside Streep in the scene is Hugh Grant as Florence’s longtime love St. Clair Bayfield. Grant has also been known to carry a tune; he played a singer in the romantic comedy “Music and Lyrics.” Also featured in “Florence” is Simon Helberg, who is best known for TV’s “The Big Bang Theory” but is himself a trained musician, having studied jazz piano for much of his life. It takes a lot of good musicians to tell the story of a bad one.
“Florence Foster Jenkins” opens in the US on August 12.