Based on the private journals of Margaret Lynch Suckley, a distant relative of Franklin D Roosevelt, Roger Michell’s misfiring comedy recalls an important meeting between America and Britain on the eve of the Second World War.
This highly charged period in history should provide a vibrant backdrop to Hyde Park On Hudson as two nations prepared for a protracted conflict with Germany.
Instead, Michell’s film largely ignores impending doom to focus on personal relationships at the New York country estate where President Roosevelt prepared to welcome King George VI and his wife Elizabeth.
It was the first visit across the Atlantic by a reigning British monarch and the eyes of the world were fixed on Hudson Valley in the summer of 1939. Our eyes, meanwhile, search for structure in Richard Nelson’s muddled script, which brings together these historical figures but fails to milk genuine emotion from their turmoil.
Feverish media interest is glimpsed through the eyes of Daisy (Laura Linney), who describes herself as fifth or sixth cousin to the president.
Living in obscurity with her aunt (Eleanor Bron), Daisy is unexpectedly summoned to the side of the 32nd president (Bill Murray) in the hope that she can take his mind off the hoopla surrounding the British royals (Samuel West, Olivia Colman).
Daisy arrives at the house with preparations in full swing, masterminded by Franklin’s formidable mother, Mrs Roosevelt (Elizabeth Wilson), and his acid-tongued wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams), who has publicised details of the meeting in a column she writes.
These plans include a picnic, at which the main course will be plates of hot dogs. “Are they trying to make fun of us?” Elizabeth asks her husband, staring aghast at cartoons on their bedroom wall which lampoon the British military.
“I don’t know,” hesitantly replies Bertie. Amid this whirl of activity, Daisy develops a close bond to Franklin and they become lovers.
“He said I helped him forget the whole weight of the world,” she confides.
However, Daisy isn’t Franklin’s only means of distraction and she must learn to share the man in power with others in his inner social circle.
Hyde Park On Hudson boasts a stellar cast, who strain every sinew to wring laughter and tears from Nelson’s script.
Murray has a twinkle in his eye as the elderly statesman, who rides roughshod over people’s emotions but demonstrates a gentle touch with his British guests when he tells George behind closed doors, “You are going to be a very fine king. Your father would be very proud.”
West and Colman are memorable in roles essayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in Oscar winner The King’s Speech but Linney is underused and deserves better.
And so do we.
Cirque Du Soleil (PG)
Founded in 1984 by street performers Guy Laliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque du Soleil has conquered the globe with a breathtaking array of acrobatics, clowning and speciality circus acts woven into visually arresting narratives. Director Andrew Adamson helms this feature film spectacular, which combines scenes from the seven shows running in 2011 in Las Vegas, hanging them around the story of a young woman named Mia who goes to a travelling circus and is plunged into a magical world were anything and everything is possible. Producer James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic) was involved in the use of eye-popping 3D to accentuate the artistry of the performers.
Brandon Cronenberg, son of celebrated Canadian film-maker David Cronenberg, makes his directorial debut with a creepy thriller that premiered in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is an employee at a futuristic clinic which allows fans of major celebrities to share the same viruses and ailments as their idols through a quick injection. It’s a lucrative business and Syd decides to make some easy money on the side by smuggling out the clinic’s most prized viruses in his bloodstream. This betrayal sends the young man on a downward spiral and as his health deteriorates, so too does his grasp on reality.
A TRAINED killer wrestles with his gruesome destiny in Jennifer Lynch’s taut thriller. When he was nine-years-old, Tim (Eamon Farren) was kidnapped with his mother (Julia Ormond) by sadistic serial killer Bob (Vincent D’Onofrio), who poses as a taxi driver to hunt and capture his unsuspecting victims.
Years pass and Tim is kept on a chain by his abductor, forced to watch the rape and murder of countless women.
A peculiar bond forms between Bob and his teenage hostage, and the killer begins to groom Tim as his heir.
When the time comes for the emotionally damaged protege to follow in the blood-spattered footsteps of Bob, he deliberates freedom from the psychopath’s clutches.
Lynch’s film is released simultaneously on DVD and Blu-ray.