I figured I’d write a quickie tonight.
I decided to take a short break from the Oscar-related things and go watch something different. I still have so much catching up to do, but I couldn’t resist. I ended up watching “Hyde Park on Hudson” as it was just released in the UK and ‘mixed feelings’ is the most polite label I could stick on what I think about it.
Why did I see it in the first place? One reason really – Bill Murray. I always adored this guy, even more so in his later years. So, when I learned about Murray bringing FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for those who can’t google) to life, it was more than enough to convince me to buy a ticket. Boy, was I disappointed.
In essence, “Hyde Park on Hudson” tells a story of a picnic weekend that Roosevelt organised (just about before WWII, I think) for King George V and his wife. Full stop. That’s right; the story can be summed up by one sentence. Maybe two if I squeeze in the quasi-romantic aspect of the story in which FDR is shown as a womanizing old gramps who’d make advances basically at anything with breasts – but he sure doesn’t look like it.
Well, just like “Lincoln”, “Hyde Park on Hudson” is a one-man show with Bill Murray making a phenomenal effort of portraying Roosevelt. And just like “Lincoln”, the story is badly written to the point of being boring and obnoxious, however what “Hyde Park…” lacks in comparison is the timelessness of the historical background to its story – well, pretty much everyone knows about the abolition of slavery and conversely no-one gives a toss about that particular weekend in upstate New York. In reality, nobody will – especially having watched “Hyde Park…” – a story so painful and tiresome that I found myself struggling to stay focused at times.
It would have been really disastrous if it wasn’t for Bill Murray. Quite sadly, he was the only man in the cast who brought more dimensions to his character, with the rest being simply colorless and routine, very much resembling a lower tier of acting profession. I’d say that maybe only Samuel West (George V) made an effort, but it really can only come across as OK when you take into account how high the bar was put by Colin Firth in “King’s Speech”.
Somehow, I’m not really surprised I hadn’t heard much about this film before, and I won’t be shocked either when it disappears from the cinemas in a week’s time. As I said, the only reason for seeing “Hyde Park…” is Bill Murray who did a fantastic job. What is more, I actually think the overall mediocrity of the film was what stood between him and the Oscar nomination, as his Roosevelt is on par with Day-Lewis’ Lincoln in my view. So if, like me, you have a soft spot for Bill (how many soft spots do I have?) go and see “Hyde Park on Hudson”. Otherwise, stay away.
I’m sorry, Bill. Maybe next time you’ll get your shot. I really hope you do. It would be a travesty if you didn’t live to receive the Oscar. Maybe next year.