24 January 2016 | moonspinner55
Tentative smiles of a summer night...
In 1939, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley, fifth cousin to the current U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is summoned to visit FDR at his country estate in Hyde Park, NY. He initiates a sexual relationship with her--we're told he thrives on the adoring eyes of young women--which surprisingly does not complicate his state of affairs, the fact he's married, or that his mother is a constant factor in his life. Bill Murray plays Roosevelt with wry humor and an unpretentious lift of the chin; crippled at this point by polio, yet unselfconscious about using crutches or by being carried around by an assistant, this Commander in Chief is a steady, low-keyed man, so lacking in drama he's almost easy to miss in a crowd. Written by Richard Nelson and directed by Roger Michell, "Hyde Park on Hudson", which is ostensibly based upon Suckley's diaries (discovered posthumously), is austere and tasteful and pointless. The Roosevelts' lack of a grand showing when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit is faintly amusing (the Royals are initially perplexed or put-off by the mild reception, but come to love FDR for his unadorned hospitality). Lara Linney as Daisy has to grapple with her feelings for a man whose time (and intimacy) must be shared, and occasionally she's too much of a sad anchor on the narrative; still, Linney's underplaying is in tune with Michell's handling, and she manages to carve out a genuine character without a lot to work with. The film has lovely passages, but is so thin it has to use Daisy's sense of betrayal for narrative tension (which is useless since nothing much is done to satisfy her--or us). Samuel West is wonderful as the stammering King (who livens up an otherwise disastrous formal dinner) and Olivia Williams is a fine Eleanor. **1/2 from ****