Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jason watches HYDE PARK ON HUDSON

Bill Murray is pretty good, but I couldn't stop seeing him as Bill Murray--I never saw him as FDR. He's just too iconic as Bill Murray for me to lose him in the role (the way, say, Daniel Day Lewis disappeared leaving only Lincoln behind.)

The movie unevenly bounces between FDR's relationship with his distant cousin Daisy (Laura Linney) and the important weekend visit of King George (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman.) This is the same stuttering King George from THE KING'S SPEECH, of course, and Samuel West does a fine job.

The press goes wild for the announcement of the first visit by a monarch of England to the U.S.A. Especially when he dines on a hot dog. But, of course, the purpose is really to secure American support for the war effort (at this point America had not yet entered WWII.) And the scenes with FDR and King George talking (and drinking, and smoking) privately are some of the most fascinating. And one of the best moments was when FDR explained why nobody mentions his polio or George's stutter. It's because the people want their heroes, and don't want to see their heroes dragged through the mud (clearly this was a different time.) However, this, to some extent, is exactly what the movie does. It shows FDR as not just a polio-stricken cripple, but a serial philanderer. It shows George not just as a stutterer, but as a weak, scared man lacking the confidence required for his position. It shows them both fighting with their wives (and in FDR's case, fighting with his mother.) And then...well, in the end it wants you to still treat them as heroes. I think the point is to show that our heroes are fallible, and in fact that their ability to relate to the common man (e.g., the king eating a hot dog) is part of their heroism. I just don't think it makes the case very well.

Running Time: 94 minutes
My Total Minutes: 310,563
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