Opening 28 Feb 2013
Hyde Park on Hudson takes place in upstate New York during the summer of 1939. The story is narrated by Daisy Stuckley (Laura Linney), a distant cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt (played by a brilliant Bill Murray). Daisy is summoned away from her beautiful but impoverished surroundings to nearby Hyde Park to keep FDR company. He breaks the ice by showing her his stamp collection and, after only a few solitary car rides in the country – including one photographed in a gorgeous meadow of wildflowers – the two become intimate. Because FDR is disabled since his bout of polio and is very much under the wing of his mother (Elizabeth Wilson), this special relationship with Daisy is very welcome.
The film actually centers on the historic royal visit of King George VI (Samuel West) and his wife Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) whose story we know from The King's Speech. They go to Hyde Park in order to secure the United States' allegiance in the threatening war. This is the best part of the movie! The king is put at his ease by FDR, and we see them both as regular human beings in a couple of sensitive yet very comic situations. This is also when Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams) plays an important role although she in reality had already moved out of the mansion.
The acting is really wonderful, there are extremely funny scenes, but there is not much plot. Daisy narrates but is never really an important part of the film. She is not even FDR's only lover. FDR's accomplishments in recovering the U.S. from the Depression are scarcely mentioned and, unfortunately, for this reviewer from the Hudson River Valley, not a drop of water was to be seen throughout the film. (Thelma Freedman)