Hyde Park on Hudson is composed of facts and fiction as it gives viewers a glance into the world of aristocratic privilege. It takes place around the Roosevelt compound in New York’s Hudson Valley. The film features a visit from the King and Queen of England as well as the affair that the president had with a distant cousin.
Hyde Park on Hudson is narrated by Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney), a fifth cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray). Daisy is invited to the Roosevelt compound to entertain the president during one of his visits. Their constant conversations lead to rides through the countryside and ends up with a sexual relationship.
Daisy is often seen at Hyde Park and she is tolerated by the president’s mother (Elizabeth Wilson) as well as his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams). The First Lady prefers to stay in her own cottage nearby. President Roosevelt’s personal secretary Missy (Elizabeth Marvel) is less accommodating to Daisy as well as his assistant Tommy.
Daisy discovers that President Roosevelt has lots of lovers, including Missy. She has to choose between her pride and servicing the president. Daisy’s story is a bit creepy instead of being romantic. In fairness to Director Roger Michell, he handles the sexual elements with some degree of restraint. Daisy is a naïve, poor girl who is seduced into an affair with an abusive philander.
Bill Murray doesn’t have to bother with accents or prosthetics to play President Roosevelt. He is an expert manipulator who can bend anyone to follow his will. He is forced to be a heel and yet manages to come out with a modulated performance.
But Murray can’t save Hyde Park on Hudson from feeling slow and dragging at times. It only comes alive when the King and Queen of England arrive. It shows the culture shock that both parties experience. Watch the movie for Murray and the smart depiction of the British royalties.