The makers of Hyde Park on Hudson have a genuine head-scratcher on their hands.
Their film about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the most fascinating figures in American history, is stupefying in its dullness.
Forget the casting of Bill Murray as Roosevelt, which is a suitably Bill Murray-esque take on the longest serving US president, and think about the way screenwriter Richard Nelson and director Roger Michell have framed this tale of Roosevelt receiving King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) at Roosevelt’s mother’s home in Hyde Park, NY: through the eyes of the least formed and dullest character of 2012, Roosevelt’s sixth cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney).
She and Roosevelt had a long-running affair. Grand. And…so what? Daisy is like a fun vampire, sucking the joy from everything around her on screen. The normally reliable Linney is wasted.
Much more compelling are Roosevelt’s dealings with the king and queen, who brighten each scene they’re in. Roosevelt and the king bond, however superficially, over their respective disabilities.
Olivia Williams appears all too briefly as first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Unfortunately, we return again and again to Daisy.
What did Roosevelt see in her? Or she in him? Who knows? And who cares?
UA Devargas / R / 98 min.