Roger Michell's HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON
Review by Dennis D. McDonald
It’s always a challenge to find something both my wife and I enjoy. Running across this gem and ignoring Rotten Tomatoes was just the thing for a Saturday night in.
Laura Linney as Daisy
I have no idea how real or accurate the story is. But the feel of the time is right. Even though the movie focuses on the personal relationships among the great and small, one can’t help but be aware of the economic depression and the coming war playing out in the background.
We’re seeing a probably fanciful retelling of events that represent things that really happened. The center of the movie of course is FDR, played with amazing deftness by Bill Murray who marginally does affect the voice and mannerisms of the great man but who also manages to portray a real, believable person with complex and wide-ranging behaviors.
What I found most interesting about this movie is how the women are portrayed through universally splendid casting. Given the outlines of the story it would have been easy for the director to push the movie with a soap opera-ish tale of sexual exploitation and alpha male domination. Instead we get something more complex. Yes, there are sexual dalliances and infidelities but we also see the countervailing influences of women in impacting relationships and world events despite tradition-imposed inequality.
Does FDR come through as a major cad in how he relates to women? Absolutely. But also portrayed is how the women respond and adjust while still managing to pull strings. It’s a fascinating view of a time and place and reminds us that these gods of our history were human too.
Love him or hate him, you do see FDR’s charm at work care and can’t help but think that this is the man who is about to lead the U.S. in the Allies’ war against Hitler. And we do get to see him being carried around from chair to chair due to his polio. This contrast by itself provides much food for thought.
Review copyright (c) 2014 by Dennis D. McDonald