Hyde Park on Hudson

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Samuel West, Olivia Williams. Drama. Written by Richard Nelson. Directed by Roger Mitchell.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, host the King and Queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the royals are desperately looking to FDR for support. But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR's domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The key word in the above synopsis is ďmistresses,Ē for that is really what this character study focuses on - Rooseveltís liaisons. Everything else in the story is secondary.

Kings and men of influence in the Old Testament had concubines as well as several wives. At some point, that custom became frowned upon. Nowadays, powerful men are either denounced for this wife-gathering process or it is ignored by the media until it makes for entertaining fodder. Iíve always maintained a compassion for those in high positions who stumbled, but it is hard to have respect for a man who cheats on his wife with frequency. Suddenly it looks as if he is being defiant to societyís view of right and wrong. And if the wife canít trust her husband after vows before God and man were made, then why should we expect him to act unselfishly on our behalf? Ah, sex, it has been the downfall of many a soul.

I mention this, as it makes it difficult to appreciate a film where the central figure is a habitual adulterer. And when that character is heard profaning Godís name, as is done here, it sounds as if he is also defiant towards the Creator, which is another reason for those attempting a spiritual walk to find the film less than satisfying.

The film briefly speaks of Roosevelt coming to the needs of America during the Depression via big government, but it fails to present any opposition. According to this film, he and his policies were beloved by one and all. I suppose this portrait of big-spending government is meant to be relatable to todayís filmgoer. Big Government will not only protect, but provide for us. It appears that vision is now the new direction in Americaís evolution. Weíll see how that works out.

Bill Murray is great as FDR, proving once again (as in Lost in Translation) that he is a real actor, not just a screen presence or a funny man. Everyone else is serviceable, though lacking in charisma. The two storylines at times work, but at others seem clumsy and unfocused. Though there is a great deal of sexual inference, there is only one sexual situation, and while the film avoids much obscenity, Godís name is followed by a curse at least four times.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Focus Features

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: I caught none

Obscene Language: Two or three obscenities.

Profanity: Four profanities.

Violence: None, but a woman falls when running and cuts herself.

Sex: One scene depicts a man being masturbated by a woman; they are sitting in a car and we see it from behind and outside the convertible; it is hinted that Mrs. Roosevelt was bi-sexual, but we do not see her in any sexual activity.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Lots of drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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