The first of two films in as many months based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, one of the 20th century's earlier 'so bad they're good' celebrities, writer/director Xavier Giannoli's French production is set in the early '20s.
Catherine Frot is Marguerite Dumont, a very wealthy opera lover and patron of the artform. Trouble is, she also believes she can sing, when in actuality she can't carry a tune in a bucket. The power of her chequebook however, not only sees her tolerated by her local opera society, but keeps them under a self-imposed omerta; she is the goose that lays golden eggs, and none of her 'friends' are about to let the fact that she also sounds like one get in the way of a free ride. Yet Marguerite is oblivious to this, and frequently holds recitals at her stately home.
Giannoli explores some interesting avenues early on with a good assortment of colourful characters - should we be mocking Marguerite for simply doing what she loves? Or is public performance only for the exceptionally talented?
There are several excellent moments, and Frot is wonderful as the delusional yet kind hearted Marguerite, but the director's insistence on structuring the film like an opera (over what I suspect were five acts), has MARGUERITE running far too long before the final scenes peter out on a strange tangent.
MARGUERITE is released March 11 in the US, March 18 in the UK, and April 21 in Australia.