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HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (director: Roger Michell; screenwriter: Richard Nelson/based on the radio play by Richard Nelson; cinematographer: Lol Crawley; editor: Nicolas Gaster; music: Jeremy Sams; cast: Bill Murray (Franklin D. Roosevelt), Laura Linney (Daisy Suckley), Samuel West (King ‘Bertie’ George), Olivia Colman (Queen Elizabeth), Elizabeth Marvel (Missy), Olivia Williams (Eleanor), Elizabeth Wilson (Mrs. Roosevelt), Martin McDougall (Tommy), Andrew Havill (Cameron), Eleanor Bron (Daisy’s Aunt); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kevin Loader/Roger Michell/David Aukin; Focus; 2012-UK)
Tedious PBS middle-brow fare, though not without a few amusing moments in this mostly forgettable historical pic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tedious PBS middle-brow fare, though not without a few amusing moments in this mostly forgettable historical pic. It tells of the cautious love affair between President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney), that took place on a June weekend in 1939 when King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) of the United Kingdom visited the upstate New York Hyde Park on Hudson residence of the President (actually his mother’s house) and were feted with a dinner, a private late night chat between Bertie (the King’s nickname) and FDR in the President’s study and a hot dog picnic hosted by FDR, his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) and bossy mom (Elizabeth Wilson). It was the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America and proved to be a success, as it forged a strong alliance between the two countries.

Brit filmmaker Roger Michell (“Notting Hill“/”Morning Glory”/”Venus”) keeps it slow moving and poorly paced, as the President’s indiscretions with his loyal secretary Missy (Elizabeth Marvel) and his summer companion Daisy blend in with the pressing affairs of state that keep the President always occupied with some kind of an affair. The newly crowned Royals are here to get American support for their imminent war with Germany and are concerned with making a good impression on the President, as the King is concerned about his stuttering while his bitchy wife is concerned that hubby is not as astute as Edward, the king’s suave brother who abdicated the throne to marry an American commoner. If we learn anything from this biopic, based on the radio play by Richard Nelson and his leaden screenplay, it’s that the leaders of the world are flawed people and have insecurity issues like most regular folks.

Bill Murray is worth the price of the ticket, as he seems to have fun playing the polio-stricken and wheelchair-bound Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the lusty charmer who understands human foibles, knows how to get a discreet hand job in his custom-made car, and is a good back-slapper and social storyteller. Murray also gets the smile and look of FDR just right, as if he spent hours studying the Life magazine covers of the President.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”