Best Actress frontrunner Laura Linney may have stumbled as we read the first reviews of “Hyde Park on Hudson,” which screened at the Telluride filmfest Friday. Neither the movie nor her performance made the cut with awards prognosticators in attendance. Going forward, reaction to the picture at next week’s Toronto filmfest will be critical.
The film is Roger Michell‘s recounting of the love affair between Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his cousin Margaret Stuckley (Linney), set during a 1939 weekend visit by England’s King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) with the president and First Lady (Olivia Williams). Murray, who plays the 32nd president, is in the Best Actor mix but that race is dominated by two-time Oscar champ Daniel Day Lewis who portrays the 16th president in “Lincoln.”
Scott Feinberg, awards guru for The Hollywood Reporter, writes: “My hunch is that it and those associated with it — with the possible exception of Murray, who shines in a mostly serious performance — will ultimately prove too light and slight a work for Academy members, who tend to demand more gravitas than this film possesses.”
As for the other performers, he notes: “Linney, on the other hand, is overqualified for her part; she is one of our most talented and intelligent actresses, but in this film has — thanks to the extremely passive nature of her character, who really doesn’t bring that much intelligence or personality to the table — relatively little to do. The same can be said of Williams, who also happens to be far too attractive for her part. West and Colman, meanwhile, provide most of the film’s levity through their out-of-touch banter, but I can’t imagine Academy members concluding that their work is meaty enough to merit nominations.”
Kris Tapley (In Contention) was also underwhelmed: “Linney is fine in the role, but the whole romantic drama feels like ‘The Real World: Hyde Park.’ It never quite paints a portrait of a meaningful companionship and really just presents FDR as a total, well, player. Murray is good as the commander-in-chief, though it feels like a bit of a supporting performance.”
Reviewing the film for THR, Todd McCarthy says: “Ultimately, the FDR-Daisy story is the film’s weakest element, in that the abiding mutual fondness and sense of confidentiality they allegedly share always seems overshadowed by the aversion Daisy feels to the whole arrangement. That Daisy is given pride of place in the story by her framing narration doesn’t entirely square with her position of secondary dramatic interest and importance. After all, the show is Murray’s. Not as large or physically dominant as the president, Murray nonetheless grows into the role … Murray captures FDR’s wily side without overdoing it and brings the man alive with humor, alertness, intelligence and a sense of confident composure that seem entirely appropriate. The performance is both credible and very entertaining.”
Five years ago, Linney lost the last of her three Oscar races (“The Savages”) to Marion Cotillard, who won her sole bid for “La Vie en Rose.” Cotillard could contend this year for “Rust & Bone” which also screens this weekend at Telluride. This love story by Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”) details the relationship between a young father (Matthias Schoenaerts) and an animal trainer (Cotillard) who loses her legs in an accident.