Review: Hyde Park on Hudson


This film does little more than caricature a past great president with innuendo, weakness and blatant misrepresentation. We have to wonder if there wasn’t some Tea Party backing.

“Hyde Park on Hudson” has two major problems that will cast it into archival obscurity: accuracy and casting. With a Yale Professor scriptwriter, Richard Nelson, and a Cambridge educated director, Roger Michell, why couldn’t the filmmakers at least get Roosevelt’s inability to walk, even with crutches, correct?

Why was the lovely cabin in the woods presented as a surprise to presumed intimate friend/distant cousin Daisy, superbly played by Laura Linney, instead of something the two had actively planned (archived in historical letters) and worked on together?

Also, why belie the American reaction to the visit by the King and Queen of England? People lined the streets to see their limousine pass, but in the only film sequence with American public they are disregarded.

With these obvious errors in historical record, how can we believe any of the rest of the film? And, by the way, what is the point of the whole story anyway?

In addition, though we love Bill Murray, maybe the intensity of Robert De Niro or the presumptive self-righteousness of Alec Baldwin could have better reflected the self-confident upper-class ego of Mr. Roosevelt. Murray might have humanized this character, but is it at the expense of changing history?

Back in the day FDR was venerated as a god and savior. He represented a father image to Americans who religiously gathered around their radios to listen to his weekly radio addresses. America trusted, respected and loved this charismatic leader.

Unfortunately, this script focuses exclusively on a short period of time in Franklin Roosevelt’s long relationship with Margaret Suckley, aka Daisy, and the visit of English royalty. A tenacious grasp on historical honesty, as in Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” along with development and insight into the historical context and character of FDR, would have made this film more important and more acceptable.

Film Credits

Director: Roger Michell
Producers: David Aukin and Kevin Loader
Screenplay: Richard Nelson
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Williams, and Elizabeth Wilson
Budget: $9 million
Box Office (December 2012): $1,731,000

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