“Hyde Park on the Hudson”
Writes It Own History
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My son looks like a younger Bill Murray. He even won a prize in a celebrity lookalike contest while wearing his Ghostbusters getup. But Bill Murray does not look at all like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and didn’t win any awards in the recent Oscars contest for playing him in “Hyde Park on the Hudson.”
Murray’s actually a great natural actor as well as a great natural comedian. But he was never the mimic that his pal Dan Ackroyd was. So his clenched-teeth, cigarette-holder impersonation of the 32nd President of the United States seems more like a bad Rich Little skit than acting.
But once you get past that, you will enjoy the movie -- currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
“Hyde Park on the Hudson” tells the mostly true story of FDR’s affair with his sixth cousin Margaret Suckley. The details came out after Suckley’s death when her diaries were read.
The film focuses on that time when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to visit the president at his country estate in Hyde Park, New York. They were drumming up support for England in the approaching Second World War. Roosevelt was busy growing closer to his cousin.
Laura Linney does a fine job with Suckley. And Olivia Williams was convincing enough as the president’s wife Eleanor. English actors Sam West and Olivia Colman are properly stiff as the king and queen.
This British-made dramedy was directed by Roger Michell. He has given us such films as the somber rom-com “Notting Hill” and the breezy “Morning Glory.”
One Roosevelt biographer claimed the film took “large, ... sometimes scurrilous, liberties with historical facts.” But we’ve been too obsessed with the liberties taken on such Oscar-worthy films as “Lincoln,” “Argo,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” to notice.
When it comes down to it, most moviegoers don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story. So the degree of intimacy between Roosevelt and his cousin, or Eleanor’s sexual predilections, are less important than being entertained, it would seem. That’s what history books are for, not movies. Right?