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Hyde Park On Hudson

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Hyde Park On Hudson - 1/2/2013 7:35:14 PM   
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Disappointing but better than W.E. - 1/2/2013 7:35:14 PM   


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Since the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, there have been a few films after that not only featured King George VI and The Queen Mother, but also a central relationship between a royalist and a commoner. Last year, we had Madonna’s truly horrible drama about King Edward VIII’s fling with Wallis Simpson that featured Laurence Fox’s inferior impersonation of Bertie compared to Colin Firth’s, which was the least of the film’s problems. Now, we see the King and Queen as the comedy royalist in Roger Michell’s somewhat American take on the royalist/commoner relationship.

1939. King George VI (Samuel West) and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) made a visit to the United States during which they stayed at President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (Bill Murray) country estate in Hyde Park, New York. Roosevelt hoped he could use the visit to in part to bolster American support for the United Kingdom on the eve of World War II, which broke out less than three months later. At the same time, the President was growing closer to his sixth cousin and eventual mistress, Margaret Suckley (Laura Linney).

Conceived as a radio drama, playwright Richard Nelson’s script was based on Margaret Suckley’s private journals and diaries that were discovered following her death. Despite her love affair with Roosevelt and the intimate details about him as told through narration by Suckley, there isn’t enough on screen to fully justify the affair, despite some nice sequences between the two leads, as well as a moderate sex scene. On the political front, there is humour towards the cultural differences between the two nations, most notably the long discussion of whether King George VI should eat a hot dog or not.

Having displayed a sense of humour in his last two films Venus and Morning Glory, Roger Michell does his best here with the comedy, certainly between the stuttering-buffoon King and the nagging Queen, played terrifically by Samuel West and Olivia Colman. The dramatic of it all, feels somewhat mystifying as characters like Olivia Williams’ Eleanor Roosevelt come and go, whilst Laura Linney’s naïve protagonist just walks around the house, which sadly underuses an actress as great as Linney.

Although not as compelling or even as statuesque as Daniel Day-Lewis’s extraordinary performance as Abraham Lincoln, Bill Murray is certainly the standout of this film as Franklin B. Roosevelt. Following Jon Voight and Kenneth Branagh, Murray’s performance as the 32nd President shows that the comic actor has a wider range than expected, as FDR is presented here as humble, soft-spoken and a pleasant sense of humour to even make the King chuckle.

Despite a great performance from Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson is not only questionable in terms of its historical accuracy, but also disappointing with the calibre of people behind the film. That said it’s a lot better than W.E.!

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Not that bad - 5/2/2013 6:16:00 PM   


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Joined: 15/10/2006
I read this review just before I went to see it, so it gave me low expectations. Maybe 2 stars is a little harsh and Bill Murray actually isn't bad as FDR, after all not too many people nowadays are old enough to remember him and although we know who he was and what he looked like, I don't think his actual personality is as well known as the likes of Churchill or Hitler. Or maybe I'm just being ignorant. But I think it's no worse than casting DiCaprio as J Egdar Hoover or Howard Hughes, and there's this upcoming film The Butler which has a truly bizarre cast. The rest of the cast are also good, though I would like to have seen more of Olivia Williams' Elenor. However despite some nice scenes, this is a fairly insubtantial story that struggles to fill out even a 90 minute running time, with a climax that seems to consist of King George VI eating a hotdog. And also you get the feeling this was originally meant to be an award-bait film, so this leads critics to judge it less forgivingly. But it should be worth a watch for most people when it's shown on TV.

< Message edited by G MAN -- 5/2/2013 6:21:49 PM >

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