Thursday, January 17, 2013

"Hyde Park on Hudson": when world leaders act like ordinary people

Hyde Park on Hudson” seems based on a small concept, the “romance” between FDR (Bill Murray) and his sixth cousin Daisy (Laura Linney)  after he “invites” her (by a manual phone call) from depression-era circumstances to the Hyde Park estate the weekend of a visit from King George (“Bertie”), Samuel West) and wife Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) for a late summer weekend.

The “romance” is subtle (not explicit at all), but it does suggest the idea that there is love after fifty, and love for those who have profound disabilities.  Eleanor (Olivia Williams), by the way, remains dispassionate.  She may have her own secret love life anyway.

That point carries over well in the scenes between FDR and the King (remember, “The King’s Speech” (Dec. 20, 2010 and Feb. 27, 2011 here).  While we see attendants and loved one’s pick up FDR and carry him physically – even as he was able to keep his paralysis out of public sight in those days – and we see the King stammer, even in the encounter alone between the two men. That’s of historical importance because the King is confiding that he expects that Hitler will attack his homeland and that he will need American help.  It would be only a short time after the setting of this film that Hitler would invade Poland.

The storyline (and associated cinematic effects) about Daisy turns a little goofy toward the end, with runs through the woods – with a big full moon right out of “Melancholia” (or maybe even “Judas Kiss”). 

But then there is wonderful outdoor scene as a film climax, a hot dog roast out on the summer lawn.  (You have to accept this as a period piece, and overlook the smoking and some other behavior.)  I could literally taste the frankfurters, and, as the characters  -- especially FDR – just acted as themselves – I  had my own epiphany at that moment.  I thought, if I “got what I want” from someone (I won’t give details), would my own attitude and my own future change?  Would I be more open to certain interactions and changes than I am now, maybe even permanently?  I was a jarring thought.  Stephen King once wrote, “Give me what I want and I’ll go away”  (“Storm of the Century”).  I change that to “Give me what I want and I’ll love everybody else.”  Oh, I’m not sure it computes.

The official site (Focus Features and Film4) is here

This movie has nothing to do with a 1984 comedy film by Paul Mazursky, “Moscow on the Hudson” (Columbia), with Robin Williams. 

Pictures: Mine: Saratoga Spriungs, NY; near Route 9 and Hudson

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