film reel image

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Hyde Park on Hudson 2012 * * 1/2 Stars

the above picture is of Hyde Park on Hudson movie titleDirector: Roger Michell
Year: 2012
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney

I've always been a big fan of Bill Murray ever since I was a kid. I've watched a majority of his movies over and over. One thing you can always take from his work is that no matter how good or bad it is, he always seems to give a solid performance. The dude is pretty decent and has never really been accused wrecking a movie. Although I was a little turned off when he went dramatic right after Ghostbusters (1984) (he did a flick called The Razor's Edge which was a huge flop), I now realize that it seems commonplace for him to do more than just comedy. Every once in a while he seems to hold back the funny to show that he can act in any film genre. Here we have Murray playing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Roger Mitchell directed Hyde Park on Hudson. Notice I haven't mentioned the film up until now. That's because there is not a whole lot to talk about. It's slow, it's dull, it's unnecessary, and it should only be viewed as a reason to see Murray flex his acting muscle. Like I said a few sentences ago, you can always trust this guy to give a good performance in an ocean of bad film making. With Hyde Park on Hudson we have exhibits A, B, and possibly C.

It's about the last year of the 1930's with President Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoying some time at his country estate in Hyde Park. While there, he gets a visit from the king and queen of England (Samuel West as King George VI and Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth) in hopes that the American people will see through him, the for the United Kingdom. This all takes place as World War II is approaching. On the side, Roosevelt takes time to enjoy the ladies in Hyde Park as evident by his affection for a fifth cousin and would be mistress in Margaret Suckley (played solidly by Laura Linney). Their relationship spans much of the proceedings and it becomes the main essence of the plot. In my mind it would've help the film more if other aspects were examined, you know the important stuff (were talking war here people).

But nevertheless, in a vehicle yearning to be a movie, you have just the two plot points mentioned via the last paragraph. These are sadly the only ones to work with. Trust me this is not very compelling drama. But hey, try telling that to the musical score (I made this point earlier in my review of Somewhere In Time). No matter what the scene, the outcome, or whatever, there is a compelling synergy of all kinds of instruments playing at the same time. This music is written to try to pump up the dramatic momentum in many a scene. I don't know about you, but when I see a character eating a hot dog or a sequence with two of the characters driving down a dirt road while making googly eyes at each other, that doesn't really evoke a symphony in my book. Even with the beautiful and haunting music, this movie doesn't established a point and even worse, doesn't try to make one.

In the end, Hyde Park on Hudson suffers from being 94 boring minutes coupled with a few shots of beautiful scenery courtesy of London, England (masquerading as Hyde Park, New York). It also possesses what I think is a meaningful or I should I say meaningless, sense of time and place. The real reason to view this thing is the Murray screen performance. It is the true high point. Being calculated, meticulous, and assured, I would put it up there with his best work. The movie however, is the equivalent of watching paint dry. And I'm talking really, really wet paint.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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