The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was a very popular president. He was also a ladies man, as witnessed in the new film Hyde Park on Hudson (opening this Friday).
President Roosevelt, when not at The White House, stayed at his mother’s huge estate in Hyde Park, New York, along with his extensive staff and wife, Eleanor. In the film, Roosevelt, played by a very stoic Bill Murray, summons his fifth cousin, Margaret Suckley (a very good Laura Linney), to come visit him at the estate. Suckley, whose life revolves around taking care of her elderly aunt, immediately accepts this invitation. This visit turns out to be more than just a visit, and Suckley becomes one of Roosevelt’s mistresses. At the same time, King George VI and his wife, Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) (played by Samuel West and Olivia Colman) pay a visit to the estate. It's right before the start of WWII, and the royals are not too sure how to win Roosevelt’s (and America’s) support for England. At the same time they have to endure a picnic and American hot dogs. So the estate is full of hustle and bustle for this visit. Meanwhile, Suckley, is starting to emotionally fall for Roosevelt, enjoying his company and the long car rides they take with each other. She soon discovers, however, that she is not the only mistress in Roosevelt’s entourage.
A true story based on Suckley’s private journals found after her death in 1991, Hyde Park on Hudson is a very good telling of her secret love affair with the president, and the very important visit to America by King George and Elizabeth. Murray, nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor, dominates every scene (and the movie) with his portrayal as Roosevelt. Linney, in a very submissive role, has the right look as a woman, whilst lonely, drawn to a very powerful and very likeable man. The rest of the cast is also good, with West almost perfecting King George’s stutter, and Colman perfect as Elizabeth. Excellent cinematography of the countryside and costumes and hairstyles from that era make Hyde Park on Hudson an enjoyable 90 minutes of historical cinema.