Delusion and Florence Foster Jenkins

How we respond to money is explored in the new film by Stephen Frears “Florence Foster Jenkins”. The film recounts the true story of the wealthy musical benefactor played by Meryl Streep. Sadly she does not possess the singing talent that she so desperately craves, yet a doting and financially dependent husband (Bayfield) played by Hugh Grant, contrives to protect her in a bubble of innocence, a charming modern day PR man. In practice, this protected them both.

The delusion is maintained through some creative and tender manipulation of a largely uniformed social circle, who pass the entrance test of wealth, yet clearly have a lack of knowledge about music. In reality this exposes their own hunger for social standing and are caught by the inability to speak the truth for fear of being outcast. There is no malice in the contrivance, but reminds us again of the impact of crowds and fear of being different, something more like the Emperor’s new clothes.

Collusion in delusion

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film, it is warm, funny and moving. This, despite essentially being a story about the ultra-rich, living in denial of any form of reality and for whom success is bought. The strong character performances carried the suggestion that denial and delusion are arguably just as important as the truth, a sentiment that Shakespeare frequently conveyed. Perhaps in relationships denial of some realities (we all have flaws) is even a necessity.

I won’t spoil the film for you, do go and see it. As a financial planner, I would draw your attention to the briefcase and the lengths that people go to avoid the harsh confrontation with reality. The Q&A at the BFI last night with Hugh Grant, Stephen Frears and writer Nicholas Martin was also illuminating, ironically employing similar delusionary tactics to protect Florence, the audience and probably the box office. This is of course is the skill in great story-telling, how to edit and reassemble a story that shapes opinion, of course the political interpretation is ever present.

FFJ preview Q&A BFI 2016-05-04

So the question is, what are we in denial about? Some denials are probably healthy and serve our own interests, other – such as the truth about your own finances is rather more vitally exposed, not harshly, but so that reality can bring about a healthy perspective.

If you would like a financial reality check, you now simply need to get in touch – contact details all over the site. Here is the trailer for the new film.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email