Based on real events: A New York City heiress (Meryl Streep) maintains a music appreciation club in 1944, and while she's practically tone deaf, she performs operatic arias and long-time patrons support her. She engages Carnegie Hall with the help of her husband (Hugh Grant) and her pianist (Simon Helberg), where she performs for thousands of soldiers and sailors (with mixed reviews). Also with Nina Arianda and Rebecca Ferguson. Directed by Stephen Frears. [1:50]
SEX/NUDITY 4 - A married man and woman (not his wife) kiss briefly in several scenes and kiss for several seconds in an evening scene. A wife knocks at her husband's apartment door loudly and the camera cuts to a man and a woman partially covered by a sheet in bed (we see his bare back and chest and her back and lower legs); we later see the woman from the bed emerge clothed from a closet. On a golf course, a man holds a woman's hips from behind briefly to steady her swing; later, she jumps into his arms and the camera cuts to a field, where the man and the woman lie clothed in some tall grass and kiss for several seconds.
► A man kisses a woman's hand and later, both her cheeks. A man kisses a woman on her forehead. A man kisses a younger man on the top of the head. A husband lies in bed, clothed, on top of the covers as his aging, ill wife lies covered under quilts; she cries and says if not for syphilis she could have given him a child and he kisses her goodnight. A woman sits in the lap of a man in her apartment, then gets up and hugs another man. A male vocal coach squeezes an older woman's waist from behind to exert more breath pressure for her singing and she bends over with a spasm in her stomach, her buttocks touching the man's groin area briefly.
► A few scenes show a woman wearing a low-cut formal gown that reveals significant cleavage; during a concert for military men, the men whistle and wolf-call and she wiggles with bent knees and struts up and down an aisle, but her husband tells her to stop and the men whistle loudly at another woman wearing a low-cut gown with significant cleavage. A woman wears stockings and garters with a nighty, staggering sleepily down a hall and a man rushes to take the woman back down the hall. A couple dances the jitterbug at a house party and her long skirt rises to show bare thighs at the top of stockings and garters. A man wearing no trousers sleeps on a couch in three scenes (we briefly see his boxer shorts). A woman wears a tight-fitting gown with a strip of fabric around the midriff that shows her skin through the heavy lace.
► A man tells a woman that she has lovely legs. A woman says to a man, "You can never have too much pleasure" and wiggles her eyebrows as he giggles nervously. A doctor asks a man, whose aging wife has long-term syphilis, about his health and he replies that they have always been sexually abstinent. A married man leaves his house and we see and hear that he goes to his own apartment every night, where his girlfriend lives. A woman holds her ears as a pianist plays a loud song and complains, "He's raping my ears!" A man in a café becomes angry and stands when men and women laugh at a record of his wife's singing and confronts the group causing his girlfriend to leave him.
► A man at a party tips his cap to another man as he eyes the second man; he later puts his arm around the second man, who looks nervous.
VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - We see a lesion on a woman's palm, which she says is from nerve damage that caused her to stop teaching piano lessons (the hand often exhibits a tremor); she drops a sharp knife that sticks into the floor and she shrieks in alarm, but is uninjured; she attempts to play piano, but her hand cannot hit the correct keys.
► A newspaper headline reads, "Foster Jenkins Gravely Ill" and we see the woman under covers in bed, her face and throat gray, and a turban on her head as she hallucinates herself at her Carnegie Hall performance dressed as an angel, singing in perfect key, as her husband says, "I love you" at her bedside and she cries a little, closes her eyes and dies. A man removes a woman's short wig to reveal a completely hairless scalp as she says that she is worried that she might lose her eyesight. A doctor looks at a woman's back, which is turned away from the camera as her husband says that she has seizures and the woman says, "The scars are from syphilis."
► A woman sings loudly and frequently off key, sounding like wailing, croaking, and gagging between a few clear notes several times and her final notes are almost always flat; friends and small audiences fight back laughter and giggles, but always stand and applaud loudly; one woman laughs so hard that she rolls out of her chair and crawls out of the auditorium, lying in the foyer in a fetal position, holding her bosom and laughing. An auditorium fills with thousands of uniformed soldiers. sailors and marines; one veteran has his arm in a sling and several men wave canes while shouting and laughing as other members of the audience stare at them and shake their heads disapprovingly; the concert begins and a woman sings loudly and off key causing a few men to guffaw and one soldier shouts, "She sounds like a dead cat!" (the woman stops singing and becomes tearful) until a woman stands up, whistles loudly, and shouts at the men, calls them names, and demands that they stand up and cheer.
► A woman finds a paper in the trash, opens it, reads a bad review about her performance, and begins to sway; she staggers through traffic, cars screeching to a halt and honking and reaching the foyer of a restaurant, and she falls to the tile floor in a faint, striking her head (no wound is seen). A woman smacks another woman on the back with a large purse, but does no injury. A woman steps on an empty wine bottle on a floor and nearly falls, but rights herself. A man confronts a group of younger men and women in a café mocking a voice on a record, grabs the phonograph record, they grab it back, they push him away hard, and he leaves the café.
► A woman explains that she contracted syphilis at age 18 on her wedding night with her first husband. A soldier says that he lost a leg and half an arm in the war. A man and a woman argue loudly about soup. A married man and his girlfriend argue about his wife. Two men argue about a concert. Two men argue at a music hall and one tells a concert promoter that military men must leave, but the promoter refuses. A man argues with a reporter about writing a bad review in a major newspaper and tries to bribe the reporter, to no avail, so the first man buys all the papers the next day and throws them in the trash. Two men argue with a man in a restaurant about his newspaper and finally pay him $50 for it.
► A tableau on a stage features a dead knight with artificial blood on his armored chest. A man kneels with his head over a toilet as a woman holds his head down; we hear vomiting from off-screen at first, the camera cuts to the man and the toilet, and we hear and see him retch, but we do not see vomit. We see a huge amount of potato salad in a bathtub, filling the tub.
PROFANITY 3 - 2 scatological terms, 2 anatomical terms, 1 mild obscenity, name-calling (insane, naughty, vulgar, fat head, human vermin, silly ox, mockers, scoffers, hateful old sap, grouch, hoodlums, pathetic, vainglorious, drummed up hack), exclamations (oh boy, oh gosh, my goodness, oh my, wow, oh my hat, shut-up, shh), 2 religious profanities (GD), 6 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh My God, Oh God, My God, Oh For God's Sake). [profanity glossary]
SUBSTANCE USE - A woman tells a doctor that she takes arsenic for the symptoms of syphilis, and we see what may be a pill bottle without a label on a bedside table. Men and women drink cocktails as well as beer and glasses of wine in several club and dinner scenes, two men drink brandy in their house, men and women at a house party dance as they drink champagne and beer and cocktails as well as wine, two bottles of wine or liquor are seen on a small table, a living room is trashed with empty wine bottles and glasses strewn around the floor among broken straight back chairs and debris after a party, a man backstage at a concert shouts that "Half the crowd is drunk," and a woman holding a glass of whiskey says that she is "a tad drunk." Men and women hold (some of them smoke) cigarettes in dozens of scenes in clubs as well as houses and apartments where swirls of smoke fill the air, a woman uses a long cigarette holder, and two men use cigarette cases and fancy cigarette lighters.
DISCUSSION TOPICS - Effects of STDs, music as a career, importance of music classics, money, power, lifelong dreams, determination, stage fright, courage, mocking, generosity, defending others, relationships, friendship, love, respect, honor.
MESSAGE - A woman who could not sing tirelessly promoted music in New York City during WWII, contributing to the city's vibrant arts scene of today.