Hyde Park on Hudson: Oh, For What It Could Have Been–Movie

Hyde Park on HudsonHyde Park on Hudson,” starring Bill Murray as FDR and Laura Linney as his distant cousin, Margaret “Daisy” Stuckley, has some very good performances and what could be an interesting story to tell, but  ultimately falls short.

The film’s main flaws are two-fold—its story-telling technique and an extremely uninteresting main character. The unraveling of events through Daisy’s eyes as well as her voice-over put the audience off at a distance and thus one never really feels engaged or invested.

Directed by Roger Michell and written by Richard Nelson, “Hyde Park on Hudson” deals with two stories—the developing relationship between Daisy and FDR and the first visit to America by British royalty, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1939.

Even if you never heard of Daisy, but know of FDR’s predilections, you know where this story is going and it’s boring. Sorry.  Daisy is boring and as portrayed by the usually wonderful Laura Linney, she is even more boring than thought possible.  In real life Eleanor Roosevelt was no beauty, but she was smart and it’s easy to imagine Franklin and Eleanor having a lively conversation. Olivia Williams as Eleanor is striking, and given the spirit she shows in the film I had a hard time understanding the FDR/Daisy attraction.

“Hyde Park on Hudson” comes to life as soon as Samuel West and Olivia Colman as the King and Queen make their entrance. Their scenes together sparkle and are just plain fun to watch. It would be hard for anyone to follow Colin Firth’s footsteps as King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” but Samuel West comes very close. His work with Bill Murray is also wonderful. You can actually feel the relationship developing between the two statesmen, each with challenges of their own to overcome.

And what of Bill Murray as FDR? I didn’t know what to expect. After seeing two other actors take on the FDR role and doing what seemed to be the definitive work–Ralph Bellamy in “Sunrise at Campobello” and Edward Herrmann in “Eleanor and Franklin”—my hopes weren’t very high. But Murray is amazing. He may not have the heft of FDR, but he does capture the spirit about which most of us have read. In short, he is very believable.

Murray and West are so good, I wish “Hyde Park on Hudson” was equal to the task. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

2 ½ nuggets out of 4

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One Response to “Hyde Park on Hudson: Oh, For What It Could Have Been–Movie”

  1. click here Says:

    I’ve always been into this sort of post. Clever and interesting, and now for your other stuff! Thank u x

    Like

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