Power is an aphrodisiac; since Early Dynastic Egypt, Mesopotamia, through the centuries, until the present, those with the might have the right to the delights of those whose lights shine at a diminished wattage, and those dim bulbs, like magnets, lust after the powerful, mighty, as sycophants to kings, presidents, dictators.
“Hyde Park on Hudson” is a quasi-documentary based on letters written to “Daisy Suckley” (demure performance by Laura Linney ) revolving around her intimate relationship with her fifth cousin, “President Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (1882-1945), depicted honestly by Bill Murray; Roosevelt had a real affinity for his cousins, “Eleanor” (Olivia Williams) his wife, also fell into the “kissing cousin” category.
Roosevelt was partially paralyzed, stricken at thirty-nine with polio; his lack of mobility did not affect his libido which was on red alert 24/7; his relationships, constant and notorious; but why should he be different from presidents decades before and decades after his demise?
“Hyde Park On Hudson” is plodding and relatively tiresome. The only flair, levity and energy supplied by King George VI and the Queen of England, (joyous performances by Samuel West and Olivia Coleman) the first of their status to visit America; June, 1939, “winds of war” steadily encroaching, they have come to woo Roosevelt, hoping for his and the United States, support and empathy. The dining and picnic scenes: realistic, hilarious, immaculately true to the times. Actual footage of the event, filmed by the King, is shown after the credits.
It has been a year of biographical studies: Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis), Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins), Alma Reville Hitchcock (Helen Mirren); Bill Murray’s depiction of the crippled President is finely- honed, especially in capturing the agony of functioning with wizened, shackled legs, cloaking pain with prescient savoir faire and ubiquitous, idolatrous female companionship. I am weary, bored by the media’s addictive attention to the sexual proclivities of leaders past and present.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!