My mother’s biggest complaint about Hyde Park on Hudson when she saw it a week or so ago was, “That’s not the FDR I ‘knew’.”  She just didn’t buy Bill Murray in the role.  She’s read several biographies of Eleanor and other Roosevelts, too, and she was generally disappointed with historical aspects of the depictions. 

I went to see the film yesterday with a history buff who had similar questions and left with cinema with big plans to delve into some reading to clarify historical points.  (Please report back, Linda!)

Happy to leave historical inquiry to others with a stronger background than mine, I am comfortable reporting that the film doesn’t work for me on other levels.

What does it want to be?  The point of view is mainly that of FDR’s distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney), launched with LENGTHY narration at the beginning of the tale, picked up at some points throughout, and used once again to conclude the film.  But, there are significant portions, mainly in the middle of the movie, when Daisy is not present for events depicted onscreen, which makes point of view a bit of a muddle.

Maybe that’s the best way to describe the film:  a bit of a muddle.  What am I supposed to take away from the picture?  That this is a period piece that could be called “Sister Wives on the Hudson”?  That FDR was a cad and not very hardworking, but he sure knew how to handle the King of England?  The film does not cohere.

A bit of a muddle, yes, although, that doesn’t convey the fact that it seems longer than Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty despite its (theoretically brisk) 94-minute running time.


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