Written by Richard Nelson
Directed by Roger Michell
Starring Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Williams
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Why can’t politicians just be honest?
When HYDE PARK ON HUDSON opens, it would appear as though director, Roger Michell is determined to make a stately biopic of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has all the right components in place, from the romantic score, to the poetically paced narration, to casting pedigreed actors for the plum parts. And just when you think you know exactly what Michell has in store for you, he has Roosevelt drive off into a secluded field so his sixth cousin can give him a hand job, good and proper. How’s that for presidential?
Rather than tell a straight forward biography of Roosevelt, screenwriter, Richard Nelson, opts to focus on some of the time the President spent at his mother’s home in Hyde-Park-on-Hudson, New York, with particular focus on the weekend that King George VI and his Queen, came to visit America with their hands out. If you don’t know the history, the details are revealed subtly and with patience, from Roosevelt’s drinking habits, to his extensive philandering, to his wife’s proclivity for the same sex. The royal visit brings all of these eccentricities (or social atrocities, if you’re royal) into the light, which makes for some great laughs. At some points though, it isn’t clear whether Michell is just having fun or rather having fun at the President’s expense.