Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

   

Every year, slower-moving costume dramas are put out as "Oscar bait." This is one of them. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as good as it wanted to be, in part because there is no real point to its story.

 

One day in the middle of the Great Depression, Daisy (Laura Linney) is summoned to the White House to amuse her distant cousin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray). Her quiet and gentle spirit appeal to him and they soon become more than friends -- lovers, of a sort. When the British royals arrive for a visit, she helps plan and carry out their visit to the American version of Hyde Park. But Bertie (Samuel West) and Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) aren't entirely pleased with FDR's sense of humor... his mother's loathing of alcohol, or the moral ambiguities found in the house. And Daisy is about to discover she's not that special after all.

 

On occasion when reaching the end of a movie, I have to ask, "What was the point?" That's how I felt throughout this film. There is no real reason to tell this story; nothing of any real importance happens, no problem is overcome, and we never attach emotionally to any of the characters. I might even go so far as to call it "boring and insulting," since its approach toward the royal family isn't respectful in the least. Bertie is depicted as a childish monarch whom FDR treats like a son, too easily pleased and lacking any real strength. All his wife does is castigate him for his stutter, his tolerance of their hosts, and bicker with him. FDR's "sense of humor" tends toward meanness more often than not, and it's doubly difficult to figure out who anyone is, since they never really introduce us properly.

 

What the story boils down to is Daisy coming to the White House, inexplicably becoming intimate with her old, unattractive cousin, and then being upset later when she figures out that she's not his only mistress. Hardly the stuff of classic entertainment, although it will probably appeal to critics who have nothing better to do. Overall, it was a disappointment -- a boring meander through a batch of lackluster and utterly selfish characters.

 

  

Sexual Content:

A married man conducts affairs with other women; a woman gives him a hand job in the car; we see another woman undressing to be with him (partial nudity); some discussion about adultery and not being the only mistress.

  

Language:

Half a dozen uses of GD, other mild profanities.

  

Violence:

None.

 

Other:

Social drinking.


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