Australian Council on Children and the Media

Florence Foster Jenkins

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Not recommended under 13 due to themes, sexual references and lack of interest

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Florence Foster Jenkins
  • a review of Florence Foster Jenkins completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 May 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to adult themes, sexual references and lack of interest
Children 13 and over OK for this age group, although there are themes and issues parents may wish to discuss

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Florence Foster Jenkins
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a wealthy New York socialite who was a great patron of the arts. She was married to St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), an English stage actor, who managed her career for 36 years until her death. Bayfield loved Florence but their marriage was unconsummated due to the fact that Florence had contracted syphilis from her first husband at the age of 18. Bayfield also had a mistress Kathleen (Rebecca Ferguson) with whom he shared an apartment, paid for by Florence.

Florence loved music and the arts and aspired to be a famous opera singer. The only problem was that she couldn’t sing, but this lack of talent did not stop her. Florence and St Clair hired a brilliant young pianist Cosme McMoon, (Simon Helberg) to accompany her. When it became apparent that he would have to perform in front of audiences with Florence, McMoon was most reluctant, but was persuaded by the offer of a large sum of money. At first Florence performed only for friends and others who heard about her and found her amusing, but eventually she booked Carnegie Hall to give a performance and gave away 1000 tickets to returned servicemen. The result was both rewarding and tragic.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Music and musical talent; money and influence; the effects of syphilis before the discovery of penicillin

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • 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.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • Florence is sick and has lived longer than expected. When she’s in bed, St Clair removes her wig and eyelashes and she is seen with a bald head and looking unwell. Her change in appearance may be disturbing for children
  • The returned servicemen in Carnegie Hall are mostly drunk and behave very badly – calling out and throwing things. This could be scary for this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Florence collapses on the floor after reading a terrible review of her performance and bangs her head sharply, knocking herself out.
  • Bayfield sits by her bedside while Florence dies.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • 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 had abstained so that he wouldn’t catch it.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • 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.

 

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is quite a lot of drinking throughout the movie
  • St Clair smokes cigarettes

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • son of a bitch
  • bullshit
  • fathead
  • arse
  • good lord
  • goddammit

In a nutshell

Florence Foster Jenkins is a biographical drama about a singer who couldn’t sing but was loved by many people because she was such a generous person. It is both funny and tragic and, due to its content, would appeal to, and be better understood by teens and adults. Because of its themes and sexual references, it is not recommended for children under 13. It is also likely to lack interest for younger children.

The main message from this movie is that it takes more than money and ambition to become a good singer. Talent is important, and parents may wish to discuss the wisdom of deceiving someone who has no talent, and not being honest about their ability from the start.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include loyalty - St Clair is very loyal and supportive to Florence despite the fact he has another lover.

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