This is a gripping film about Franklin D Roosevelt. The film is set in his upstate New York estate called Hyde Park. There are some handsome shots of the locale.
Bill Murray masterfully portrays FDR. He is in a wheelchair and occasionally hobbles around with his legs in braces. His cigarette in a holder is ever present.
The year is 1939. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (parents of the current queen) visit the United States. It is a low key visit but seen as crucial to curry favour with the United States. The British are aware that a war against Germany is likely to break out and they need all the friends they can get. This is the first visit by a British monarch to the United States.
George VI is understandably anxious to make the right impression. If he acts regally he might rub his American hosts up the wrong way. If he is too approachable he might disappoint them. He is unsure how to play it. His wife is more of a stickler for form and believes in being icily distant. In the end the king decides to be informal. He and Roosevelet hit it off and the king tells self deprecating tales.
The acting is superb. The lines are witty and mostly credible. The portrayals are perhaps not accurate historically speaking. George VI has no stammer and is self-assured and voluble. In real life he was nothing like that. He was also a slender man and a rather bulky Sam West plays him. His wife was a hefty woman and a svelte actress plays her. Murray got Roosevelt down to a T. He has captured his accent, mannerisms and feline cunning.
Much of the story is seen through the eyes of FDR’s distant cousin with whom he is carrying on an extra martial liaison. How can a disabled man do this? He is not shagging her. Mrs Roosevelet is hardly seen.
This is a captivating yet unambitous tale. There is no need for special effects or to have a star studded cast. Murray is the only A lister in the dramatis personae. The film succeeds in retaining the audience’s attention through it lively script and convincing acting. The clothes and the manners of the 30s are a treat to watch.