Last night I watched a beautiful British Heritage film called Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) on ‘Star Movies’. A much awaited, must see, movie for me, and am glad I finally got to watch it.
Hyde Park on HudsonHyde Park on Hudson
The Biographical/Historical drama, is based on Margaret ‘Daisy’ Suckley’s private journals, letters and diaries, which were discovered after the death, of the 99½ year old, Suckley, in 1991. The movie is about her secret love affair with President Roosevelt, including some very intimate moments they shared, that took place during the British Royal visit to the United States, in Spring/Summer of 1939.

Spring of 1939. Europe is on the brink of a second world war. United States, having gone through almost a decade of survival, post the Great Depression of 1929, is being ruled by crippled president. One day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mother , asks a distant cousin of his, Daisy (Laura Linney) to visit the ailing President of the United States (Bill Murray). Before long the two are involved in passionate affair, and Daisy becomes one of the president’s several mistresses.

Meanwhile, in June 1939, the stammering King George VI (Samuel West), of England, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), visit the United States. The British Royals stay with the Roosevelts, in their country estate, in the town of Hyde Park, in New York, along the Hudson River. The Royals official visit is to form an alliance between the two continents and gain help for the brewing war in Germany.

Beautifully filmed; with great set décor and skilfully capturing the breathtaking scenery, or rather capture the spirit, of the America’s Hyde Park; the film is a nostalgic trip back to the British Heritage films, especially the Merchant Ivory productions, that were so popular in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. One of the most interesting scenes for me was the disastrous dinner, given in honour of the King and Queen, which the King politely turns into joke as not to embarrass the hosts.

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth and Samuel West as King George VI, in a scene from HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012)

Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth and Samuel West as King George VI, in a scene from HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012)

The Actors
The whole cast of the film is brilliant. Bill Murray was spot on for the role of the President. A good President, though not to condone his wayward ways, is shown to be kind towards the young uncomfortable royals. Samuel J. West does a superb job playing the nervous and ever stuttering King, who became King, in 1936, only because his elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne, to marry the divorced American socialite, Wallis Simpson, in turn pouring down a ton of responsibility onto the unprepared, younger, ‘Bertie’, King George VI. Olivia Colman is wonderful as the constantly concerned Queen Elizabeth. Concerned for how her husband would be treated in this unknown land, on their very first visit, and frequently fearing that her Bertie would be compared unfavourably to his predecessor, King Edward VIII. Olivia Williams is great as the tough Eleanor Roosevelt, the American First Lady, as is Elizabeth Wilson, as the President’s mother, who runs about organising the household for the Royal visit. Last, but not the least, Laura Linney gives a touching performance as Cousin Daisy, who is overwhelmed with the Royal visit, and shattered when she discovers she’s not the only other woman in the life of the President.

Laura Linney as Margaret ‘Daisy’ Suckley and Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012)

Laura Linney as Margaret ‘Daisy’ Suckley and Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012)

My Verdict
I don’t really get the negative reaction and low rating associated with this movie. I personally thought it was a very well made movie, though not necessarily an excellent venture. Reminded me of two other excellent biographical screen adaptations I watched within the last decade. The television movie, Warm Springs (2005), with Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon playing Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt respectively. And the big screen Oscar winning cinematic wonder, The King’s Speech (2010), starring Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (parents of the current reining Queen of United Kingdom), respectively. Both of which I gave 10 star rating each. Hyde Park on Hudson, however, though a very good movie, doesn’t get such a high rating.

Hyde Park on Hudson
Rating 8/10. Very Good!!!!

The film was entirely shot in England, and production designer Simon Bowles has done a magnificent job creating upstate New York in the English country side. Bill Murray was nominated for a ‘Best Actor’ Golden Globe. A movie really worth watching.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense.

Hyde Park on Hudson to connect

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