Rewinding the clock to June 1939, in the midst of the depression and fear of another war outbreak, President Franklin Roosevelt (Bill Murray) invites the King and Queen (Samuel West, Olivia Colman) of England to his mother’s home, Hyde Park on Hudson, New York. England hopes that this visit will gain the support of America should Germany attack. While preparing for this important weekend with the Royals, Roosevelt struggles to find a moments peace and grows increasingly weak, suffering from polio. He finds ways to amuse himself, collecting stamps and an array of mistresses, for whom he seems to care about sincerely each fulfilling a very specific role in his house and life.
The story is told from the perspective of Roosevelt’s 6th cousin, and alleged mistress Daisy Suckley. After Suckley’s death a box containing letters and diaries describing her time with Roosevelt became the source and inspiration for Richard Nelson to turn this into a screenplay. This then probably forgives that the historical accuracy of the film comes into question, as it’s based on these subjective writings.
At first there’s rather delightful moments of awkwardness portrayed in a very natural manner by the actors, as the relationships among the various characters are introduced. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t offer more than those rare moments, but one must applaud Murray’s portrayal as Roosevelt, for which he was nominated Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
Roosevelt: “It’s like a madhouse.”
Daisy: “Don’t worry, all’s quiet on the upstairs front. He’s definitely younger than I imagined, for a king, you know?”
Roosevelt: “Is he?”
Daisy: “They both seem nervous. That surprised me.”
Roosevelt: “Well, without some help from us, Daisy, there soon might not be an England to be king of. So I’d be nervous too.”
For a rather average and unmemorable movie it does have a pleasantly soothing soundtrack. With songs like Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller and I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire by The Ink Spots, you’ll find yourself swaying with a smile.