Thursday, December 13, 2012
How could anyone seduce the President of the United States wearing oxfords, long printed frocks and spinster cardigan sweaters? Even if said President was crippled by polio and the year is 1939. Yet Margaret "Daisy" Suckley (Laura Linney) dressed thus, became Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (Bill Murray) intimate confident and companion during a major portion of his life.
Daisy being 5th cousin to the Roosevelt family and the only relative available one summer afternoon; was called on by FDR's mother to come make a visit to Hyde Park, her home in Upper State New York, to which her son, The President, often used as an extension to The White House.
Daisy was only told by Mrs. Roosevelt that FDR needed a distraction from the weight of the world. As it turned out, she became a welcome distraction - going from admiring Roosevelt's interest in philately to accompanying him on long drives to becoming a permanent fixture at the house and then much more...
My Oscar vote is divided when it comes to these two recent Presidential performances: Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Bill Murray as Franklin Roosevelt. I will say, I was most surprised by Murray's ability to play Roosevelt with such wistfulness, quiet charm, subtle humor and vulnerability; all that Bill Murray-ness that we've known and loved for ages, is suppressed in this performance, allowing a real insight into who the man known as FDR may have been.
Hyde Park on Hudson is mostly told from Daisy's point of view, yet the movie's center revolves around the first visit of the King and Queen of England to America, in hopes that they might persuade the United States into fighting with them against Germany. It's these scenes with the Royals, Bertie (Samuel West) and Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) that are the most inspired and humorous. However, many of these scenes take place without Daisy being present, so it throws off the storytelling rhythm of the film. I can imagine director Roger Michell and writer Richard Nelson struggled with this dilemma, and in the end decided to abort the narration factor and opt for what would allow for more detail.
I've now seen this King and Queen depicted in 3 films - first, The King's Speech, then, Madonna's W.E (click for T & T post) and now, Hyde Park on Hudson. What's nice about the speech impaired Bertie and the high-browed Elizabeth, is that each time this couple is represented, they are quite close, share much and present a united front.
Here's a snip it of an interview by Edward Douglas with Roger Michell on making Hyde Park on Hudson in light of The King's Speech:
Philly Film Blog