Review of Hyde Park on Hudson

February 13, 2013 11:50 am

So this seems to be the month for heavy hitting political films based on great American presidents. Yes, that is what you get from Lincoln, but from Hyde Park on Hudson, you get meh. I was looking forward to it; it’s set during a fascinating period in history and centred on two interesting, powerful figures, but this film really came up short.

What was supposed to be the main event, King George’s visit to Roosevelt to try and persuade him to help in the event of a war in Europe, was just a sideshow to the story-line of Roosevelt’s relationship with his very dull fifth cousin, Daisy. The relationship was unconvincing. You could believe that a provincial girl like Daisy would fall for a powerful, charming leader like Roosevelt, but Bill Murray’s Roosevelt is just incredibly boring. He spends his time avoiding his mother and looking at his stamp collection. Maybe they were trying to show a more sensitive side to him, the personal rather than the political, the ordinary man, but even if you did think he was quite a nice chap, as soon as you found out he was sleeping with every woman in the film, you just didn’t like him. I was puzzled because I couldn’t for the life of me think what they saw in him; he was completely lacking in charisma, and was quite stupid, telling Daisy that she could go to his house in the woods any time she liked when he was actually using it himself with his secretary.Hyde-Park-on-Hudson-Poster

Daisy was the narrator, as it is based on her diaries, but she was always on the outside, never part of the action, therefore her narrating it just didn’t feel right.

There was a little sparkle in Roosevelt’s fatherly, teasing relationship with the awkward King. One of the most interesting scenes was when they were alone in his office, and they started to open up, but this was cut short. It felt like you could never really penetrate the characters. There were glimpses of intrigues, but the film stopped short of exploring them. And the funniest joke about the British not voting for their King was made twice, (and shown in the trailer). The main cultural differences between the English and the Americans were explored through a hot dog. The King’s willingness to eat a hot dog is apparently what cemented the ‘special relationship’ between our two countries.

The characters were wet and weak, apart from the Queen and Eleanor, and the story was tedious, which is a shame because it could have been brilliant if the focus had been more on the diplomatic relationship between two incredibly powerful men. To come out at the same time as Lincoln is unfortunate because it only highlights how awful this film is compared to Lincoln. If you want to be politically stimulated, don’t go and see this.

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