Scripted by the American playwright Richard Nelson and directed by the former RSC chief Roger Michell, Hyde Park on Hudson is an oddly pale companion piece to The King's Speech and made with a similar eye to the American market. It centres on a weekend that the stammering George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman, an altogether less sympathetic figure than the one played by Helena Bonham Carter) spent at the family home of President Franklin D Roosevelt (Bill Murray) in New York in the summer of 1939, a few weeks before Great Britain declared war on Germany (but over two years before that conflict became global).
The occasion was a landmark of sorts (the first visit to the States of a British monarch), but more symbolic than truly significant and treated here as an old-fashioned, lightweight comedy of Anglo-American manners and a titillating look at FDR's discreet harem, narrated by one of its inmates, Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney), FDR's fifth cousin. Seen at a certain distance, Bill Murray is a passable FDR, but he grins too easily and never suggests FDR's gravitas or greatness. The film's special success resides in the women's hairdos.
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