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Sunday, March 24, 2013
Review: Hyde Park on Hudson (Roger Mitchell, 2012)
The 1939 visit of King George VI (Samuel West) and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), to the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (Bill Murray) country estate in Hyde Park, New York, was a media circus and a significant event in the strengthening of American-British relations on the eve of World War II. This is the setting of Hyde Park on Hudson catalogued via the unique perspective offered by Daisy (FDR’s sixth cousin) and civilian observer who becomes [one of] FDR’s mistresses. This could have made for quite an effective character study. But, Hyde Park on Hudson is simply an unfathomably dull film.
Linney’s voice-over narration – inspired by the posthumously published letters or her then-secret relationship with FDR – has far too much bearing on everything, but as Daisy wasn’t dining with the royalty, nor in the room when FDR and the King talk, doesn’t have conviction. As a result, we feel like we are watching exactly what Daisy is telling us, however true that may be. Daisy is such a meek, naïve character – lured into an affair with President, believing it to be love – that her devastation at the realization that he’s not only a married man, but that she’s not his only mistress, does not evoke any sympathy. Almost every sequence lacks energy and there are few cinematic qualities. If one were watching this tale in their living room, it would still be tedious sit. It is relatively pleasant, mind you, but unlikely to stir even a single emotion.