Hyde Park on Hudson recounts the royal visit of King George VI (who you may remember from Colin Firth’s portrayal in The Kings Speech, depicted here by actor Samuel West), and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) to Hyde Park from the perspective of Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney), who at this time has recently become FDR’s (Bill Murry) mistress.
Unbeknownst to Daisy, she’s not the only secret Roosevelt is keeping. The screenplay is based on actual events discussed in diary entries and letters that belonged to Daisy. The correspondence was found after her death, and the affair she had kept a secret for most of her life was finally revealed.
The royal visit begins with anxiety for the young King and Queen, but Roosevelt quickly assuages the King’s concern, and the relationship that develops between the two men, as well as the chemistry between Murray and West is heartwarming and endearing to watch.
The events of the film eventually lead to the “hot dog picnic,” meant to honor the King and Queen on their visit to Hyde Park. Much of the entertainment in the film comes from Olivia Colman’s performance as Queen Elizabeth, and her concern over the hot dogs. The hot dog of course means something, but what. That’s the question that worries Elizabeth so that she is unable to sleep the night before the big day.
“Are you going to eat a hot-dog?” Elizabeth contemptuously asks her husband that night. To which he responds with a sarcastic rebuttal indicating that, not only does he intent to eat a hot-dog, he will proceed to stick them in his ears and up his nose as well.
The Queen is right, the hot dogs do mean something, but it’s not quite the attack on the King’s pride that she worriedly imagines, and the moment when George bites into the hot dog on that summer day in 1939, serves to represents the moment that England and America were once again united allies.
Hyde Park on Hudson is a light and charming tale with engaging performances by all. Bill Murray’s portrayal of Roosevelt is especially lovely, as he adds his own comedic nod to the role, thus enabling the audience to love the president through his humor, despite the multiple indiscretions revealed about his love life.
G-S-Talking Point: FDR is respected as one of the greatest Presidents. But whether or not his story lends itself to a great time at the cinema is up to the viewer to decide. So tell us, what you think is the best movie about any US President?