Film Review: Hyde Park in Hudson (2012)

“But, to answer your question, Elizabeth, I ‘am’ going to eat a hot dog”

Directed by Roger Michell and written by Richard Nelson, Hyde Park in Hudson is a rather delightful little thing, a trifle of a film that nonetheless has an endearing emotional edge to it. Set on the eve of World War II, George VI and Queen Elizabeth become the first British monarchs to visit the US but rather than the pomp and circumstance of an official state visit, they’re taken to Franklin D Roosevelt’s country estate and introduced to the complex personal relationships he’s built around him.

Key among these is Margaret ‘Daisy’ Suckley, a distant cousin and childhood friend who has recently returned to his life and who narrates the film in Laura Linney’s delicate but determined tones. The Royals want to secure US support for the war they know is coming, the polio-ravaged FDR wants to be left alone to amuse himself with the collection of women he’s gathered around him and Daisy just wants to know where she is in the pecking order.

And it all plays out rather amiably. Bill Murray is really very good as the ailing president, trying and failing to reduce his worldview to balancing the power struggles between his overbearing mother (Elizabeth Wilson) and estranged wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams). And once the hubbub around the royal visit kicks in, Linney’s external viewpoint offers an interesting perspective on a key historical moment, thoroughly humanising all of the main players.

Samuel West and Olivia Colman as Bertie and Elizabeth are deliciously sweet, young and somewhat nervous about the whole scenario, their apprehension about the social improprieties of extra-marital relationships, the eating of hot-dogs and sitting through forced entertainment is highly amusing, Eleanor Bron is her customary fierce presence as Daisy’s mother and Andrew Havill is good fun as a royal helper. A cheery Sunday afternoon of a film. 

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