Film Review: Hyde Park on Hudson

Viewers that have seen the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson will know exactly what to expect. Although the film boasts great costumes, art direction and performances, it lacks anything more substantial than this.

Margaret Suckley is invited to spend time with her distant relative, Franklin D Roosevelt, President of America. As their friendship develops, the President is engaged with the forthcoming visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England, who are due to spend the weekend at Hyde Park on Hudson…

Everything moves along pleasantly in Hyde Park on Hudson, but without any real purpose. There is some humour in Roger Michell’s film, but a lack of strong dramatic moments. This means the narrative plods along rather. The film takes a steady course, with no real change in emotion or tension. There is a distinct lack of peaks in the narrative. The problem with this is that the crux that the final third depends on goes with a whimper rather than a bang.

Hyde Park on Hudson functions as The King’s Speech 2. There is a surprising amount of time given to Bertie and Elizabeth, given that the focus of the film revolves around the relationship between Franklin and Margaret. Franklin D. Roosevelt is such an interesting character, but this film offers a snippet of a brief period in his life rather than a biopic.

Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Williams all offer great performances. The film has sumptuous visuals and the feel of a polished period piece. The score is entirely in keeping with the style of the film.

The film certainly looks the part, and the performances lead to the expectation of something more. Hyde Park on Hudson is let down by the absence of a gripping narrative.

Hyde Park on Hudson is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.

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