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Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 14 December 2012


Jay´s Review

It's a pretty sad commentary when the highlight of a film for me is whether or not the King of England will have the courage to take that first bite of an American hot dog. We are in 1939, Roosevelt is still President and Bertie is England's new king (his brother recently abdicated to "marry the woman I love"). The king and queen have come to seek support from America as they struggle against Nazi Germany.

A sixth cousin of FDR becomes embroiled in the presidential household because she and her widowed aunt live near the president's mother in up-state New York; he takes a shine to her while on vacation from the White House. This movie is based on a suitcase filled with thousands of intimate pictures and correspondence found under her bed after she died in 1991. She was a few months shy of 100 years old.

This is a great cast but it was hard to understand what they were saying:

  • Bill Murray ("Moonrise Kindom") is FDR, cigarette holder at a jaunty angle, who trusts the media to suppress any mention of his polio, his paralyzed legs or his proclivity for women who are not his wife.
  • Laura Linney ("The Details") is Daisy, that aforementioned cousin, born Margaret Suckley. This is strictly an unglamorous role with no makeup, no brassiere, dowdy shoes and shapeless clothes. Daisy is sweet, naïve, and a most unlikely addition to FDR's harem.
  • Samuel West ("Notting Hill") is Bertie, played last year by Colin Firth in "The King's Speech." This is a sympathetic role and West does it very well.
  • Olivia Colman ("The Iron Lady") is Elizabeth, shocked by the provincial attitudes they encounter in "The Colonies," certain that Americans hate them and dreading that notorious hot dog...But the Queen Mum's good manners prevail!

I would be remiss, if I didn't mention the photography and production design. Some of the locations are remarkable, particularly a truly impressive field of clover in full bloom and a bucolic drive in the countryside. The vintage cars, clothes and manners are impeccably reproduced, along with FDR's relationship with the obedient press, who would await his permission before taking any photos. Daisy herself took one of the rare pictures of him in his wheelchair.

A caveat however: if you have even slight hearing problems, attend a theater with Closed Captions or wait for the DVD so you can play it with subtitles. I know there was humor because a couple of the people in the packed theater chortled. ...sigh...

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