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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2013

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"Hyde Park on Hudson" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-april-2013-hydepark

Synopsis

Hyde Park on Hudson is the story of FDR’s (Murray) special relationship with Margret Stuckley (Linney), a distant cousin, and one of several mistresses he had during his presidency.  To complicate matters, he is hosting the King and Queen of England on their first-ever visit to America, at his Hyde Park home.  Margret is content to take a back seat to his demanding life as President until discovering she is not the only object of his affections.  In the end, she accepts that too, as the price of being intimately involved with one of the central figures in mid-twentieth century world history.  The weekend nearly erupts in chaos but all is contained and a special bond is formed between the US and Britain that would become pivotal to the outcome of World War II.

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2012, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 35 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams
  • Directed by: Roger Michell
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: Implied
  • Language: No

Commentary

I was prepared to like this film based on its plot synopsis but it was disappointing in execution.  While there are some terrific actors in the cast, the script comes off more like a reality show rather than a plot-driven presentation.  Conversations often grow stale and fizzle out rather than advancing the story in this dialog-driven movie.  The best part is the portrayal of the King and Queen of England, thanks to excellent performances by Olivia Colman and Samuel West.  Their reactions to meeting FDR and his entourage are at times priceless, and always funny.  This is also a rare opportunity to see Bill Murray in a serious role and he did fairly well; at least as well as he could given the material at hand.  Laura Linney also brings her considerable talent to the table but again, the script falls short.  While this is certainly an interesting look into FDR’s personal life, it could have been treated better.

Technical

The image is superb with beautiful warm tones and a vintage color palette used throughout.  Detail is always sharp and well-delineated.  Contrast is also broad and deep with rich blacks, excellent shadow detail, and soft highlights.  The color stays consistent whether a scene takes place indoors or out.  I also appreciated how natural everything looked.  There was none of the stylized interpretation that is so common in modern films.  This is one of the best period presentations I’ve seen to date.

Audio was clean and crisp thanks to an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio encode.  Dialog is the key element here and it was perfectly mixed and presented.  The music was a nice mix of period-correct popular songs and orchestral fills.  Ambient effects were used beautifully to create a believable country atmosphere as the entire movie takes place in upstate New York.  There wasn’t really anything for the sub and surrounds to do but it’s an omission that will not be noticed.

Extras

Bonus features include deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, a short documentary about FDR’s early presidency, and commentary by director Roger Michell and producer Kevin Loader.