Hyde Park on Hudson is a little confused about what makes for an interesting film. It is convinced that we want to watch a romance between FDR (Bill Murray) and an annoying woman (Laura Linney) rather than enjoy the social awkwardness when King Bertie (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) come to stay. The story of this momentous visit from British royals is for some reason told through the eyes of FDR’s mistress who is mercifully absent from many of the scenes surrounding the visit. Linney’s Daisy is most fawning or crying over FDR – loitering around like a wet blanket with nothing better to do than hang around looking needy as FDR’s wife (Olivia Williams) looks on with all the contempt I myself was feeling.
Murray gives a routinely robust performance as FDR managing to be amusing without ever trying too hard. He plays a warm president with a slight weakness for women and an effortless charm. In contrast the royal couple are a socially awkward pair experiencing culture shock in their first trip to America. It helps that The King’s Speech has made us familiar with this pair but the never less than perfect Colman and the not-quite-Colin-Firth West play a stiff but friendly couple with a fear of hot dogs and a humanising vulnerability. These three combined with Williams make for a curious double date as the two couples gradually feel one another out and gradually become friends.
This could have easily been a very enjoyable, if slightly lightweight, period drama about international relations. There is plenty of meat here for a film dealing with a similar mix of humour and historical importance as The King’s Speech with which Hyde Park on Hudson would have made a perfect double bill. However… Laura Linney’s character stops this from happening. Whenever the film shift to focus on her dull affair with FDR the film veers away from anything interesting and ends up an inconsistent mess.
Hyde Park on Hudson is a promising film that has been sat on by Laura Linney. The film has been left flat and deformed and is no longer fit for use. What a waste.