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Hyde Park on Hudson

Year: 2012
Production Co: Daybreak Pictures
Director: Roger Michell
Writer: Richard Nelson
Cast: Laura Linney, Bill Murray, Olivia Colman, Samuel West, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Williams

Everything about this movie looked very polished, from the soft, gilded cinematography to the marketing that looked like a T shirt reading 'please give me an Oscar'.

So after collecting such a great cast and looking so lovely on screen, for the end result to be so tepid and dramatically inert was disappointing. Not that I expected gun battles or fighting robots, but the story – of an American President hosting British royalty at his weekender while he conducts an affair with a far-removed cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney) – has almost no drama.

It's supposed to be Daisy's story, but she's as dull as the quaint beige surroundings of Roosevelt's titular holiday property. When she's hurriedly summoned to Hyde Park one day in the midst of the great depression, it seems to be simply because Roosevelt (Murray, doing a great job that's way more impactful than anything in the story) has nobody else to keep him company.

His frosty wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) and his beloved buy fussy mother just stress him out as he tries to figure out whether a formal alliance with Britain is a good idea, so he takes Daisy out on long drives with his custom-built hand-controlled car, the pair embarking on an affair that's so chastely depicted they're barely breathing the same air.

The affair is what the story's supposed to be about, but Daisy is so insipid in the background of everything when Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) and King George (Samuel West) come to visit and cultures clash that she becomes no more than a check mark in a box, as if her story's done and we don't need to look at her any more.

Some great actors do very good work with good dialogue and it has good staging and beautiful photography, but none of it is helped by such a dull story.

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