This French film stars award-winning French actress, Catherine Frot, who plays the title role, Marguerite. Loosely based on a real life New York heiress named Florence Foster Jenkins, Marguerite is both sad and funny. Set in France during the 1920s, the movie is about a wealthy woman who aspires to be an opera singer. She’s made herself the generous patroness of her town’s music club, which regularly features talented musicians and classical singers. She also inserts herself in the playbill and decimates the audience’s fine musical senses as she performs.
Although Marguerite lacks singing talent, she’s a good person at heart. Because she is so earnest, no one wants to bluntly tell her she sings horribly. It’s like the tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. Everyone is fearful of telling the truth because in this case, they might hurt her feelings. Set in France just after Word War 1 when the country is rebuilding herself, the movie’s theme explores fidelity in both literal and figurative ways. There are references to racism, classicism, and sexism spread throughout. All told it’s an engrossing tale as we watch Marguerite’s desire to sing in more public venues takes a poignant turn. There are some twists that I don’t want to spoil so let it be said that this movie shows that sometimes blood, sweat, and tears might not be enough to get you what you want.
One last note: The movie is in French, but the captions are so well done and the original dialogue so beautiful, you won’t mind reading along.
One more note: The American version of this film, Florence Foster Jenkins, stars Meryl Streep and will be out soon.