Adapted from a play called “Hyde-Park-on-Hudson”, (a production of which was aired on BBC 3), Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney won’t be, in my opinion, a contender for Best Picture, or Best anything, for that matter. Narrated by Linney’s character Margaret “Daisy” Suckley, a distant cousin to FDR (played by Murray), the film follows the historic weekend in 1939, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit America, the first reigning British royalty to do so.
The speculated romantic relationship between FDR and Daisy is a large part of the plot, though the movie goes one step beyond history with a cringe-worthy scene between FDR and Daisy just a few minutes in. The movie hardly delves at all into the politics of the time, largely ignoring the impending WWII, and instead focusing on the minutiae of the monarch’s visit. There were, however, a lot of chuckles, mostly due to King George (played by a believable Samuel West, who previously played Dr Frankenstein in Van Helsing) and Queen Elizabeth (a prim and proper and hilarious Olivia Colman). Their comically uptight reactions to everything as they venture into this “New World” called America were the best parts of the whole movie. I found them to be the actual stars of the film, as the other characters left a lot to be desired. I found FDR and Daisy to be, at best, flat characters. There were a few, a very few, moments where I cared at all about their situation. For the most part, I just wanted to see more of George and Elizabeth discussing the meaning of hot dogs.
Unfortunately, the POV doesn’t stay constant. With Daisy narrating, we are nonetheless privy to scenes she was nowhere near to. There were a few cinematic moments where I smiled, but for the most part, the movie came off as flat, with no real substance to it. Had they done a bit more with what was going on in the world at the time, rather than the one-liner from Daisy at the beginning about the bad economy and hardly anything else, it might have been a bit better.
For the scene that made me cringe, the overall uninterestingness, and despite the hot dogs, I give this film:
Focus Features’ HYDE PARK ON HUDSON is scheduled to open next Friday, December 14, 2012.
Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney star in a historical tale that uniquely explores the all-too-human side of one of history’s iconic leaders. Blending literate wit and drama, HYDE PARK ON HUDSON is directed by Roger Michell from a screenplay by Richard Nelson.
In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (played by Mr. Murray) readies to host the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – marking the first-ever visit of a reigning British monarch to America. As Britain faces imminent war with Germany, the royals are desperately looking to FDR for U.S. support.
But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams), mother Sara (Elizabeth Wilson), and secretary Missy (Elizabeth Marvel) will all play a part in making the royal weekend an unforgettable one.
Seen through the eyes of Daisy (Ms. Linney), Franklin’s neighbor and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship.
Runtime: 95 Min