The Second World War looms ahead in 1939 and the prospects look grim for the United Kingdom. Hoping to shore up support from the United States and its 32nd president, the King and Queen of England visit Franklin Delano Roosevelt and wife Eleanor at their home in Upstate New York, marking the first time that a reigning monarch had ever visited America. The historic weekend is brought to life in the upcoming comedic drama “Hyde Park on Hudson,” with funnyman Bill Murray already raising Oscar buzz for playing against type as the three-term president. But it’s not all political intrigue as the weekend is seen through the eyes of Daisy Suckley, the president’s mistress.
Critics have given the film mixed to positive reviews with many of them comparing it to 2010’s international hit “The King’s Speech” starring Colin Firth. King George VI, played here by Samuel West (Van Helsing), still needs speech lessons when visiting FDR’s bucolic estate and he is overawed by the president’s ability to communicate so easily with his country’s citizens. Queen Elizabeth, played by Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady), is offended by such American staples as a “hot dog picnic” and can’t believe it when the First Lady speaks to her on a first-name basis. But FDR has more intimate matters on his mind as he begins a long-lasting relationship with his distant cousin Daisy, played by Laura Linney (The Savages and TV’s The Big C).
Written by the playwright Richard Nelson, the film is largely derived from Daisy’s real-life diary, which was discovered after she died in 1991 at age 100. As depicted in “Hyde Park,” Daisy grew intimately close to the president but had competition vying for his attention because he had already begun a well-documented affair with his secretary, Missy LeHand (Elizabeth Marvel). It’s no secret that the monarchs’ visit helped garner support from the U.S. in the war. But the movie shines light on everything else that made this weekend so memorable for everybody involved. Directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill), “Hyde Park on Hudson” premieres in limited release on December 7.