In 1991, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley died aged 100. What makes Daisy interesting is that she was the fifth cousin of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and found under her bed after she died was a small suitcase with diaries and intimate letters that chronicled her unorthodox love affair with him.
The discovery of these letters is the inspiration for this politely mannered, nostalgic drama written by Richard Nelson.
In her diaries Daisy wrote of the preparations for the first-ever visit by a reigning British monarch to the United States in 1939, with the royals staying at Hyde Park in upstate New York, where Roosevelt lived with his mother, occasionally his wife, and often his mistresses. The film brings together two stories: the blossoming relationship between FDR and Daisy, and a meeting of huge importance to Britain, with the nervous royals preparing to ask the US for support in the impending war with Germany.
It's a sweet, amusing film, aimed at those who enjoyed The King's Speech, with director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) playing up the cultural differences between the nations for the sake of entertainment, rather than conveying the gravity of this historical moment. The approach is so casual you forget you're watching a film about heads of state. Bill Murray gives a charming and charismatic performance as Roosevelt, as he works to make sure his complicated living arrangements don't cause embarrassment to the royals and while there is nothing plain about Laura Linney, she presents a mousy character with typical aplomb.
Those unaware of President Roosevelt's adulterous nature and unusual home life will find Hyde Park on Hudson a revelation. If it's old news, then this pleasant drama offers little further insight but will help pass a Sunday afternoon nicely.
Cast: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams
Director: Roger Michell
Running time: 94 mins
Rating: M (offensive language and nudity)
Verdict: Pleasant, but lacklustre historical drama