Writer: Richard Nelson
Cast: Bill Murray, Samuel West, Laura Linney, Olivia Colman, Olivia Williams
Running time: 94mins
The lowdown: It’s Downton USA in this frothy account of King George VI’s audience with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the eve of WW2, when Britain requested America’s help in fighting the Nazis. Bill Murray is clearly enjoying himself as the eccentric, polio stricken Commander-in-Chief, while West plays the same stuttering monarch Colin Firth portrayed to Oscar winning effect in that King’s Speech movie. Rising national treasure Olivia Colman is on prim, mildly unamused form as Queen Elizabeth (aka, the Queen Mum).
The full verdict: You have to admire Samuel West’s bravery, being all trousers and no talk as King George VI in a film clearly not going to be The King’s Speech. And while West occasionally comes across as if he’s stifling a sneeze, he’s efficient enough.
Efficient aptly describes Hyde Park on Hudson, a film far more at home on a small screen one Bank Holiday Sunday night.
Laura Linney is efficiently wistful as Margaret, narrating that long gone summer in 1939 when FDR wooed her, and incidentally received the King and Queen of England to his home.
Bill Murray is efficiently sprightly as the President, charming but with a roving eye for the ladies that his wife Eleanor (an efficiently pragmatic Williams) tolerates.
The only surprising (and distasteful) element to Richard Nelson’s script (adapted from his radio play) is that the President’s afternoon drive groping of his distant cousin Margaret is not met with a slap to the chops.
But, the film is efficiently helmed with chocolate box prettiness by Roger Michell, forever the director of Notting Hill – an efficient romcom that arrived at just the moment audiences wanted to be charmed… efficiently.
Hyde Park on Hudson will muster no such adoration, but it’s a lightweight three star way to kill those two hours if you’re at a loose end on that lazy Sunday bank holiday.
This review first appeared on skymovies.com on Jan 20th 2013