Comedy drama starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney. In June 1939, American president Franklin D Roosevelt (Murray) hosts the British royal family at his country house in upstate New York on their first-ever visit to the United States. King George (Samuel West) and his Queen's Consort Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) are on a diplomatic mission to secure America's support in the fight against Hitler. Meanwhile, against the backdrop of this historically momentous meeting, the ageing but eternally-philandering Roosevelt finds time to seduce another of his house guests, his demure distant cousin Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney). Olivia Williams co-stars as the long-suffering Eleanor Roosevelt.
What a pleasant surprise this little film was. It tells the story of FDR's relationship with Daisy, concentrating on the time around King George's awkward first visit in America, shortly before the outbreak of WW2. FDR (Bill Murray) escapes the pressures of office and the two powerful women in his life, his mother and his wife Eleanor, by spending time with Daisy (Laura Linney), a distant cousin. The visit of the insecure, stuttering young British King and his wife is seen as an unavoidable nuissance by the Americans, and the presence of the stiff and formal British royals in the rather informal country house in upstate New York (Hyde Park on Hudson) causes tension. However, the two men soon manage to forge a strong bond.
The story is based on the diaries of the real Daisy, discovered after her death many years after the events shown in the film. For those viewers who, like me, know nothing about FDR's affair with Daisy and little about his meeting with the King, the director's feature length commentary included in the extra features is very helpful in understanding how much of the story is fact, and how much is fictional embellishment.
The acting is very good all round, Samuel West is wonderful as the awkward young King, and Olivia Colman works unexpectedly well as the queen. I also loved Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt and the 90 year old Elizabeth Wilson is simply outstanding as FDR's forceful mother. The real surprise for me was Bill Murray. I am not usually a great fan of him and found it hard to imagine him as FDR. Boy, was I wrong! He is quite wonderful in this film and his performance here changed my opinion of him as an actor completely. The one person I could not get excited about is Laura Linney, but perhaps that is due to her character, Daisy, whom I could not warm to. There is nothing wrong with Linney's performance, it merely failed to leave a lasting impression.
The quality of the DVD is good. Picture and sound are clear, and the extra features included provide valuable insights for those interested in both the making of the film and the historical events the story is based on.
I was really looking forward to watching this and the first twenty minutes or so are excellent, setting the scene in a truly beautiful part of the world and featuring gorgeous vintage cars and a house I would kill for. The relationship between the President and Daisy is nicely handled and there are great performances from Bill Murray and the fabulous Laura Linney BUT once the Royals come on the scene it falls apart. I really disliked the weak, pathetic portrayals of the King and Queen who helped us survive WWll and the dialogue involving them was trite, superficial and unrealistic. Olivia Colman, usually excellent, was badly miscast as the late Queen Mother and Samuel West seemed badly constipated whenever he appeared.