Hyde Park on Hudson

Lavish and languid. Those are the two adjectives I would use to describe this pale companion to The King’s Speech.

After watching the trailer, I expected more humorous scenes as U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) welcomed the British royals to his country retreat in upstate New York. And more depth regarding the president’s relationship (affair?) with his distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney). But perhaps there was no depth to that relationship. Maybe all that FDR did was take country drives, play cards and share drinks with this agreeable companion approved by his mother.

Bill Murray captures many of the nuances of FDR with his panama hats, southern drawl and long cigarette holders, but fails to demonstrate the strength and decisiveness of one of the great U.S. presidents. His wife (Olivia Williams) and mother (Elizabeth Wilson) come across as forceful women who ruled their respective roosts.

I was most intrigued by the scenes involving the royals (Olivia Colman) and (Samuel West). The queen is portrayed as a sharp and shrewish woman, suspicious of her hosts and all Americans. She is obsessed with the hot dogs to be served at the picnic and convinced that everyone “wants us to fall flat on our faces.” Her constant references to the Duke of Windsor and what he would and would not do undermine the King’s confidence.

The most compelling scene occurs between the disabled president and stammering king. Bertie confides, “They didn’t want me as their king” to which the president replies, “I didn’t think they voted for that in England.”

 



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