Movie Review: Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Drama
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hyde park on hudson

In 1939,Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) prepares to host the British King George (Samuel West) and his wife Elizabeth (Olivia Colman)  to Hyde Park for a mini summit about the state of the world in wartime.  Edward wants the US to help England and join the war, FDR has many isolationists that he must convince in America, before he can get involved in WW II.  FDR invites his fifth cousin Daisy (Laura Linney) to join him in Hyde Park, and soon they are constant companions.  Is there more to their relationship than meets the eye?  Does Edward convince FDR that entering WWII is a worthwhile pursuit?

I did not like Hyde Park on Hudson at all.  This movie only seems intent on defaming FDR, as a serial philanderer, and feckless husband who has to deal not only with an overbearing wife, but also an overbearing mother as well.  Roosevelt happens to be a political hero of mine for many reasons.  He won WWII as Commander in Chief, got the economy out of the Great Depression, and did all this while suffering from polio, which he had to hide from the press and public.  Social Security, a cornerstone of Roosevelt’s New Deal, is still with us today.  Like him or not, he fundamentally changed America, and he doesn’t deserve that tabloid hatchet job that this movie turns out to be. Whatever they do to FDR, they treat Eleanor even worse.  The movie makers treat Mrs. Roosevelt with disdain because she wanted to be inclusive of people who had been left out of the political process, and because she is a strong-minded independent woman with opinions of her own.  She should be lauded for her outspokenness and inclusiveness, not condemned for it.  The trailer made it seem like it would be a light-hearted comedic film about a meeting between the king and President, it was anything but, the characters are anything but likeable and the movie on the whole left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The acting is horrendous.  I like Bill Murray, in both his dramatic and comedic roles, but Roosevelt had an upstate New York patriarchal voice, and whatever Murray was trying to do with his voice, it didn’t work, and proved to be more of a distraction than anything else.  Olivia Williams, who plays Eleanor is a Brit, and her accent seeped through her delivery a couple of times.  So there was the battle of the accents, Murray trying to put one on, Williams trying to take one off, it was troublesome.  Samuel West brings some much needed levity to the proceedings, but really overemphasizes the stuttering.   See The King’s Speech if you want to see the definitive movie about King George.   Olivia Colman plays Elizabeth as a relentless nag, and that gets old fast.  Laura Linney plays Daisy as a doormat, a wet dishrag that doesn’t inspire much interest.

The direction yields a few interesting shots of FDR and Daisy in the countryside, among the wildflowers, but overall the pacing is slow and ponderous.

Hyde Park On Hudson:  The only thing you have to fear is…watching this film.

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