Hyde Park on Hudson is released on 1 February.
It was the Centrepiece Gala of the 56th BFI London Film Festival.
Roger Michell’s (Notting Hill) whimsical, clever and ever so slightly risqué Hyde Park on Hudson is sheer movie-going delight. In a perfect narrative double-take on the term ‘special relationship’, the story of the secret love affair between Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney) centres on the weekend in 1939 when King George (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) pay a royal visit to upstate New York with the objective of securing the United States’ allegiance in the impending war.
Based on Stuckley’s diaries and letters, discovered after her death, Richard Nelson’s finely modulated script balances charm, comedy and political acuity. Bill Murray’s impish performance as FDR oscillates between playful and serious, proving a delicious contrast to Laura Linney’s gentle naivety and Olivia Williams’ energetic swagger as the forthright Eleanor Roosevelt.
Intriguingly, given its essentially female perspective, the heart of the film is to be found in an extraordinary scene between the two leaders – the roguish, paternal American President, and the nervous young British King – an encounter that will ultimately define the future alliance. Excellent cinematography and production design from Lol Crawley (Ballast; Here) and Simon Bowles respectively complete this dreamy, impeccable film.