Friday, January 18, 2013

Hyde Park on Hudson

In the face of impending war, 
leaders require a great deal of positive rallying

The Royal Meeting at Hyde Park
     Set during the weekend of the King and Queen of England’s visit to FDR to secure support for the gathering European war, Hyde Park on Hudson is two movies.  One is
about forming the ‘special relationship’ between Roosevelt,  

Laura Linney and Bill Murray
played with avuncular panache by Bill Murray, and Edward VIII, played far less stressfully by Samuel West than he was by Colin Firth, that has carried into the present between the U.S. and Britain; the second is about Roosevelt’s intimate friendship with his distant cousin Margaret Suckley that Laura Linney embodies as a middle-aged New England naïf.   

Olivia Colman and Samuel West
as the Royal Couple

     It’s a small, modest movie about what were to become momentous events that saved the democratic world.  It reminded me of a PBS American Playhouse presentation, though there is one early, startling scene where Suckley manually comforts FDR that lends it a sense of risk.  Otherwise, as in The King’s Speech, the central focus is a father figure to strengthen George VI.  He was a weak example of European royal inbreeding, who had to be pulled together in extraordinary times by a landed American aristocrat, who happened to be President.  The Depression ruined Suckley’s family and Sara Delano Roosevelt’s house is somewhat worn and she doesn’t have enough plates for dinner.  

Elizabeth Marvel
as the Other Mistress
     What’s perhaps more interesting is how the media and FDR’s circle dealt with his inability to walk and his collection of mistresses.  In both cases, they were discreetly acknowledged but never mentioned. Could FDR have survived in our contemporary paparazzi shark pool?  How much of it is factual? A trio of top actresses (Olivia Williams, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Colman) portrays Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR’s personal secretary Marguerite LeHand, and Queen Elizabeth, respectively.  Williams, especially, goes against caricature and presents an Eleanor, who is pragmatic and completely confident in her arrangement with FDR.  It’s also original to see Queen Elizabeth as something other than stalwart and cheerful.

DId you know that Margaret gave Fala, FDR's Scottish Terrier, to him as a gift?  At least we got to see him and his friend at the beginning of the movie.

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