DIRECTOR: Roger Michell
STARRING: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams
Based on private journals discovered after her death, Hyde Park On Hudson tells the story of Margaret ‘Daisy’ Suckley (Linney); fifth cousin to President Roosevelt (Murray) and for a short time the object of his wandering affections. The screenplay intertwines the intimate details of their affair with a weekend in 1939, when the King and Queen of England paid a visit to the President in upstate New York.
If you’re expecting the US parallel to The Kings Speech from Roger Michell’s latest directorial effort, then you will more than likely be left disappointed. I found myself struggling to establish a clear sense of direction within the films narrative, as both plots are severely compromised by the inclusion of the other. The film would have evoked a greater range of emotion if it had been more focused upon the relationship between Linney and Murray, which should be given credit for the times in which it provided the film with a quiet sense of sentimentality. This is lost however, due mainly to the sharp, mocking portrayal of the English royals, whose characters in The Kings Speech were brimming with a strong sense of playfulness. Their role in this film seem to be much more centred on their opinions regarding the tastelessness of ‘Hot…Dogs…?’; which is a shame, as the cast is awash with critically acclaimed talent. Both Murray and Linney deserve praise for their efforts, though they struggle to keep their characters remaining upright with very little material to work with. Olivia Williams also gives a strong performance as Eleanor Roosevelt; she exudes confidence and wit, freeing herself from her more softly spoken roles.
If you’re willing to appreciate the film for it’s historical context and acting talent alone, then give this a watch. However, trust that you will find something which neither resembles an epic tale of romance nor a gritty account of war-related politics as neither genres are ever fully explored, which will leave you wondering what kind of film you’ve actually been watching.