In June 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth became the first reigning British monarchs to visit the United States. The purpose of their visit was secure a closer relationship with the United States. They knew they would soon be at war with Germany, and they needed the support of the American people and the American government. For part of their visit, the monarchs were guests of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his home in Hyde Park, NY.
Hyde Park on Hudson is the story of that visit-from the frantic preparations to the dinner welcoming the royals and to the picnic which featured King George being served a hot dog. This story of international significance is anchored by a smaller, more personal story. As the movie begins, FDR begins an affair with Daisy, a distant cousin. Daisy is from a poorer branch of the Roosevelt family. She lives in the area with an elderly aunt, for whom she is caretaker.
Daisy is flattered by the attention from her distinguished cousin. She is excited to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the “Summer White House”, as FDR’s Springwood estate was considered.Daisy is at FDR’s beck and call. When he arrives in Hyde Park, he calls for her. When he is not there, she returns to her previous life, caring for her aunt.
Bill Murray is a convincing FDR. He is a confident and consummate politician. Laura Linney does a fine job playing the self-effacing Daisy. But Samuel West and Olivia Colman really bring to life the King and Queen. They are perplexed at many of the things they encounter in Hyde Park. They are not sure if the Americans are trying to insult them, or are just oblivious to the affect that American informality and humor have .
This movie is only being shown in a few theaters. If it’s playing near you, I would definitely see it soon. Bill Murray has been nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actor for his portrayal of FDR; perhaps if he wins it will keep this film around a bit more.