Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Hyde Park on Hudson, dir. Roger Michell, scr. Richard Nelson, st. Bill Murray, Laura Linney

Hyde Park On Hudson tells the story of George VI, the bestammered King of speech fame (Samuel West), who journeys to Franklin D. Roosevelt's country retreat in Hyde Park, New York, wife in tow, hoping to garner support from the president for the impending World War. Roosevelt, disabled with polio, enabled with booze, and possessing of an easy and charismatic charm, is played by a softly spoken, impeccably turned out Bill Murray, in more subtle snarkless mode. Franklin repeatedly requests that his sixth cousin Margaret Suckley (Linney) become his aide of sorts, a person with whom he can banter with honesty, and the presence of whom raises eyebrows amongst the other inhabitants of the house, namely Roosevelt's Mother, and his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams). As the pair grow closer, and their relationship deepens, Michell eases off from showing us too much of his characters' more revealing motivations, probably as a result of the nature of the source material - the real Margaret Suckley's letters from Franklin that were discovered upon her death; one wonders at the myriad of ways intention and purpose might be misconstrued and reconstructed through contextless words and phrases. Nevertheless, Michell directs in the same kind of modality that made Notting Hill such an easy watch; the humour is touching and uncomplicated and the narrative is compellingly familiar and predictable, if not historically uncertain.