Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hyde Park on Hudson

Hyde Park on Hudson; drama, UK, 2012; D: Roger Michell, S: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams

In '39, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, has a secret, intimate relationship with his distant cousin Margaret "Daisy" and they meet in the country estate in Hyde Park. The British King George VI and his wife Elizabeth arrive to the US to visit Roosevelt and ask for his help due to the ever growing threat of German Totalitarianism in Europe. George VI has a complex of lesser value due to his stutter, but Roosevelt manages to calm him, reminding him about his own paralyzed legs. Margaret is shocked that Roosevelt also has other affairs, but forgives him.

A 'micro-biopic' about one event in the life of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in '39, Roger Michell's film is competent and without any major flaws or glaring errors (if the historical accuracy regarding his alleged intimate relationship with Margaret is disregarded), and yet, at the same time it is strangely spiritless, tasteless, bland and uninteresting. All the events are presented with elegance and filmed with a professional hand, but they lack a soul: the storyline is a one giant empty walk without a clear point or a punchline that makes something "click" in the viewers' heads, and is in the end just a lukewarm biopic, a harmless, yet too insipid, too light film. The most was achieved from Bill Murray who gave yet another great performance, this time with an untypically fragile persona of Roosevelt, bound to a wheel chair, but who has charm and warmth: when the British King George VI is despairing because he suffers from stuttering ("Damn this stutter!"), Roosevelt comforts him by pointing out his own physical flaws: "What stutter? This damn child polio". He also has one faint, but refreshing example of humor: when his mother protests against the British guests, she has this exchange with Roosevelt: "This is my house!" - "I'm the President!" The frequency of events conjured up was left lacking since they are too scarce to sate anyone, yet overall "Hyde Park on Hudson" is a well made little film.


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