Hyde Park on Hudson
Winter 2013 Features series
Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 4:00pm
Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Roger Michell
Screenplay by Richard Nelson
Starring Bill Murray, Laura Linney, and Olivia Williams
Rated PG ·
Hyde Park on Hudson
Roger Michell’s scurrilously entertaining Hyde Park on Hudson details the historic pre-war weekend in 1939 when England’s King George VI (last seen portrayed by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech) and Queen Consort Elizabeth came calling on U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his upstate New York manor house — and when the president started to become especially close to his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley.
The royal couple’s sojourn to Hyde Park on Hudson marks the first time that the British monarchy has ever made an official visit to the United States, and with war clouds on the horizon it is crucial that the soon-to-be allied nations fortify relations. Michell (Notting Hill) and screenwriter Richard Nelson playfully depict the recurring spasms of culture shock — hot dogs on the barbecue proving an especial source of horror for the royals — that serve to turn prying eyes away from the blossoming love between Daisy (Laura Linney, Kinsey, Love Actually) and FDR (Bill Murray, Moonrise Kingdom, Get Low). Meaningful silences, the proud display of a stamp collection, a tryst in a car — stolen moments accumulate as affinity becomes affection becomes an affair, while the chaos brewing on the European continent seems far, far away.
Well-served by Nelson’s screenplay and Michell’s sensitive, assured direction, Linney is marvelous as Daisy, both outsider and confidant, an object of fixation and the soul of discretion. But the film’s biggest revelation is Murray, who does not suppress his inimitable persona so much as channel it into a remarkable evocation of this larger-than-life figure; the deadpan humour and sideways charm remain, but Murray holds himself differently, uncannily suggests Roosevelt’s unique, almost Cary Grant-like cadence and gives the impression of a man bearing great responsibility with beguiling grace.
“Bill Murray as FDR? It takes a few minutes to get used to, but once he settles into the role of the 32nd president, the idiosyncratic comic actor does a wonderfully jaunty job of it in Hyde Park on Hudson, a seriocomic look at an eventful weekend at the chief executive’s country estate as well as at his unusual domestic arrangement.” (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter)