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Hyde Park on Hudson
Now Playing at the Savoy Theater
Hyde Park on Hudson
Franklin Roosevelt was the most important American of the 20th Century. If you have an opinion about 20th Century politics, you have an opinion about FDR.
Some view FDR as an economic savior - the man who led the United States out of the Great Depression and on the path to industrial supremacy and middle class comfort. The man who made sure that America’a elderly would never be left hungry or destitute.
To others, Roosevelt is a villain - the man who used the crisis of the Great Depression to expand his own power and impose his will on the country.
By ignoring George Washington’s precedent and running for a third term, Roosevelt effectively established himself as President for life. And by making a play to pack the Supreme Court with his own loyal stooges in 1937, Roosevelt flouted the balance of powers framework that the Founding Fathers created to guard against tyranny.
Roosevelt’s critics accuse him of molding the United States into a centralized welfare state. He put us on the road to our current predicament, where people are addicted to entitlements and the Federal Government is unsustainably expensive.
Franklin Roosevelt is influential and interesting enough to warrant a serious film about his Presidency. This certainly isn’t it.
“Hyde Park on Hudson” is an uneven, unimportant little movie that spinelessly refuses to take a stand on FDR, either for or against.
Director Roger Michell couldn’t even decide whether to make a comedy or a drama. Half of the movie tells the entertaining story of stuttering King George VI and his wife as they visit Hyde Park - Roosevelt’s upstate New York mansion - to plead for the President’s help in Britain’s impending war against Germany.
The other half of the movie is the disturbing story of Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney), a distant cousin of Roosevelt (Bill Murray) who took joy rides with the President whenever he visited Hyde Park. Soon the rides got more joyful (and creepy) because they began having an affair.
Margaret knew that FDR was married. What she didn’t know is that she was just one of several women the President was regularly sleeping with - in Hyde Park alone.
At first, Margaret is humiliated and angry. Then, she just forgives him and continues her affair. Like: “well, it turns out that the man I love is a shameless liar who treats me with no respect. But, whatever, these things happen. Ooh, I hope Franklin calls me tonight!”
I’m open-minded enough not to judge other people’s relationships, but I may have to draw the line at this one.
I earnestly recommend that you do not let your daughter see this movie. I sincerely hope she expects more for herself than to be girl #4 in some arrogant jerk’s harem.
Basically, “Hyde Park on Hudson” paints the 32nd President as a lying sleaze ball and the mortal enemy of feminism. And this isn’t even the filmmakers’ intention.
I’m on the fence about whether or not FDR was a good President. But I am absolutely certain that I do not recommend this movie.
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