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The Florence Foster Jenkins Story

Part fiction part documentary, THE FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS STORY tells the life of the "world's worst singer" in a spectacularly campy way. The singer is played by real life opera star Joyce DiDonato.


Ralf Pleger, who has shot numerous music documentaries in the last 15 years, turns his semi-documentary THE FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS STORY into an introduction to camp aesthetics. Susan Sontag’s epic essay “Notes on Camp” is not only the foundation for understanding why Florence Foster Jenkins remains fascinating but it also lays the groundwork for the look of the film itself. The real opera diva Joyce DiDonato plays Florence in scenes that brim over with painted naked male bodies, flowers, ruching, wavy garments, artificial snow, golden angel wings, and similar nonsense. Camp is the sensibility that recognizes the failure of a serious artistic attempt, it is the penchant for excessive feelings and junk, for kitsch that seems so meaningful it isn’t simply ridiculous. Camp lives in the tragic, loving components which differentiates itself from the “so bad it’s good” category. Camp can also lower the value of things that were once seen as great art: you can easily see traditional opera and ballet performances, even great ones, as camp. The best scenes in THE FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS STORY are the ones where Joyce DiDonato sings in the way that Florence Foster Jenkins believes she does – the perfect aria – and then tries to mimic Jenkin’s awful singing. DiDonato can’t do it as well as Meryl Steep in Stephen Frears film though. Her mezzo-soprano remains strong and her musicality can’t be denied.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: The Florence Foster Jenkins Story
Deutschland 2016, 93 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Ralf Pleger
Author: Ralf Pleger
DOP: Christopher Valentien
Distributor: SALZGEBER
Cast: Joyce DiDonato, Adam Benzwi, Jan Rekeszus
Release: 10.11.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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