Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the true story of a wealthy New York socialite of the same name (Meryl Streep). Jenkins is a great patron of the arts. She’s married to St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an English stage actor, who manages her career for 36 years until her death. Bayfield loves Florence but their marriage is unconsummated because Florence contracted syphilis from her first husband at the age of 18. Bayfield also has a mistress, Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson), with whom he shares an apartment, paid for by Florence.
Florence loves music and the arts and aspires to be a famous opera singer. The fact that she can’t sing doesn’t stop her. Florence and St Clair hire a brilliant young pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), to accompany her. When he realises that he’ll have to perform in front of audiences with Florence, McMoon is most reluctant, but agrees after he’s offered lots of money. At first Florence performs only for friends and others who hear about her and find her amusing. Eventually she books Carnegie Hall to perform and gives away 1000 tickets to returned servicemen. The result is both rewarding and tragic.
Music and musical talent; money and influence; the effects of syphilis before the discovery of penicillin
Florence Foster Jenkins has some violence. For example:
- A dead soldier with blood on his face is shown on a stage screen.
- Bayfield tries to stop a group of people playing Florence’s record and making fun of it. They push and jostle him.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Florence Foster Jenkins has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Florence is sick and has lived longer than expected. When she’s in bed, St Clair removes her wig and eyelashes. She has a bald head and looks unwell. Her change in appearance might be disturbing for children.
- The returned servicemen in Carnegie Hall are mostly drunk and behave very badly. They call out and throw things.
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, Florence Foster Jenkins has some scenes that could scare or disturb in this age group. For example:
- Florence collapses on the floor after reading a terrible review of her performance. She bangs her head sharply, knocking herself out.
- Bayfield sits by her bedside while Florence dies.
Nothing of concern
Florence Foster Jenkins has some sexual references. For example:
- McMoon is shocked to discover St Clair has a lover.
- Florence tells the doctor that she contracted syphilis when she was 18 and that she and St Clair have not had sex so that he wouldn’t catch it.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Florence Foster Jenkins shows some use of substances. For example, there is quite a lot of drinking throughout the movie, and St Clair smokes cigarettes.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in Florence Foster Jenkins. For example:
- St Clair and Kathleen kiss passionately.
- St Clair and Kathleen are naked in bed but covered by sheets when Florence arrives. Kathleen has to hide in the bathroom.
None of concern
Florence Foster Jenkins has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Florence Foster Jenkins is a biographical drama about a singer who can’t sing but is loved by many people because she’s such a generous person. It’s both funny and tragic.
Because of its content, this movie is most likely to appeal to and be understood by older children, teenagers and adults. Therefore we don’t recommend it for children under 13 years.
The main message from this movie is that it takes more than money and ambition to become a good singer. Talent is important too. You could talk with your children about whether it’s a good idea to deceive someone who has no talent and to be untruthful about that person’s ability.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include loyalty. For example, St Clair is very loyal to and supportive of Florence despite the fact he has another lover.