The breezy, entertaining tone of this historical comedy-drama kind of undermines the fact that it centres on one of the most pivotal moments in US-British history. Director Michell (Notting Hill) knows how to keep an audience engaged, and yet he indulges in both tawdry innuendo and silly cliches, never giving the real-life events a proper sense of perspective. Even so, some terrific performances make it enjoyable.
The events in question take place in 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Murray) invites Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (West and Colman) to visit Hyde Park, the upstate New York residence he shares with his mother (Wilson), while his wife Eleanor (Williams) lives down the road with her "she-male" friends. Roosevelt knows that George is here to ask for help against the growing threat of Hitler's Germany, and as a result of their talks a "special relationship" develops between America and Britain. Meanwhile, the womanising Roosevelt is not-so-quietly having an affair with his distant cousin and confidant Daisy (Linney).
Essentially there are two films here fighting for our attention. Much of the story is seen through Daisy's eyes, complete with an annoyingly mousy voiceover that never tells us anything we can't see on screen. Linney underplays the character to the point where we barely notice that she's in the room, and the depiction of Daisy's romance with FDR is often squirm-inducing. By contrast, the other aspect of the plot is fascinating, with West and especially Colman shining in their roles as witty, nervous Brits trying to make the most of the first ever visit of a British monarch to America. Their steely resolve is brilliantly undermined by their brittle nerves and endless curiosity.
Continue reading: Hyde Park On Hudson Review
'Hyde Park On Hudson' is the story of the 32nd President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his growing love affair with his soon to be mistress Daisy. In the summer of 1949, Roosevelt decides to invite the reigning monarchs of England King George VI and Queen Elizabeth over to America for their first ever trans-Atlantic trip - incidentally, the first trip to America any English monarch has ever made. The President's friends, colleagues and family rally together to create a fun and interesting weekend for the Royals despite their unfamiliarity with proper royal protocol such as knowing the proper way to address the King and Queen. Nonetheless, the royals remain polite and do their best to cover up their nervousness and lack of experience of American culture as war with Germany is imminent and they may need someone to turn to.
This partially biographical and downright comical drama has been told in the shoes of Daisy and takes place only months before World War II broke out. 'Hyde Park on Hudson' has been directed by Roger Michell ('Notting Hill', 'Changing Lanes', 'Morning Glory') and written by Richard Nelson ('Ethan Frome') and is set to hit cinemas from February 1st 2013.
Hoffman is unforgettable, as is Bancroft (supposedly old enough to be Hoffman's mother but actually only 6 years his senior in real life). Of course, Buck Henry and Calder Willingham's adaptation of Charles Webb's novel is what makes this picture so perfectly solid ("Mrs. Robinson... you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"), and who can forget the masterful direction of Mike Nichols, here in his prime, setting up that immortal shot of Hoffman as seen beneath the bent knee of Bancroft? And Simon & Garfunkel's soundtrack is also perfectly apt, unforgettable to this day.
Continue reading: The Graduate Review