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Bill Murray's New Deal: 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

The former "SNL" star takes on FDR

Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson

Bill Murray in an iconic pose stars as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson." — Courtesy of Focus Features

By far the film's most powerful scene occurs earlier that same night, as FDR and the king share some man-to-man time in the president's study. There they sit, face to face, two powerful men, one whose physical impairment keeps him keenly aware that he holds his position by default — and one whose disabilities have, in some ways, fueled his dogged pursuit and sometimes ruthless dispensation of power.

"This goddamned stutter," George blurts bitterly. FDR smiles wistfully and responds, "This goddamned polio."

FDR opens George's eyes in a way that makes us wonder why the king bothered spending all those years in speech therapy with Lionel Logue. He emerges from FDR's study his own man in a way he never was before, and we find ourselves believing such epiphanies are possible.

It's all very thrilling, and so we are just a tad deflated when Daisy turns up again, this time mooning over the realization that she is just one of FDR's stable of women. (I couldn't help but remember the dust-up over Mitt Romney's "binders of women," simultaneously marveling at how far we have come and wondering in which direction we are going.)

Linney speaks the final voice-over in Hyde Park on Hudson, in words presumably taken from Daisy's diaries. Her wrap-up rushes through the final years of FDR's life, assuring us that their relationship continued, as did the rest of the president's involvements. His virtual abandonment of one former lover after she became deathly ill is written off as a "personality flaw," and we are again reminded of how, even while leading public lives that inspire for generations, in the darkness of their darkest nights, even the mighty are fallen.

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Your Scoop on Cinema

Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


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