June 1939 was an important time in American history. It was the first time that the King of England came to the United States for a visit. This occurred when King George (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) were on the British throne and the American president was Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray). World War II was looming on the horizon in Europe and England was desperate for the United States backing against the Germans. In the U.S. the Great Depression’s effect was still being felt.
If you are interested in the history and occurrences of what went on just prior to and during the visit then I advise you to take in Roger Michell’s (Notting Hill, Changing Lanes) slow moving picture. Though I do advise this with a recommendation that you have to have a high tolerance for boredom. By slow moving I mean at a pace a snail would be comfortable with. The entire story is told from the viewpoint of a distant female relative of FDR. A woman who lived a solitary life in rural New York State taking care of her elderly aunt (Eleanor Bron). This female cousin has nothing special about her. She is neither exceedingly beautiful, witty nor young. Truth be told she is quite a dull woman. Maybe that is why the film has such a slow pace. Honestly a woman on the fringes who was hardly noticed really doesn’t seem material for a film in my opinion.
There was probably a meatier and more fluid moving film to be made here. I mean, we are partially covering the affair of an American president with his far removed cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney). Why it never comes to fruition is due to the fact that Michell never really seems all that interested in his characters, which is strange since this is largely a biopic. The digging into their modus operatus is superficial and shallow. We never are given any hint as to why certain characters acted the way they did. The result was that I found my attention wandering when I really wanted to like it and spend my 94 minutes learning something more about Roosevelt and the King George we were introduced to in the wonderful film The King’s Speech.
I don’t fault Laura Linney or Bill Murray for the weakness of the film as they both turned in good performances. Neither is given very much to work with though Murray’s certainly is the showier role of the two. The extent of what is asked of Linney is to stand at the fringes of rooms, sit in the passenger seat of a car or smoke a cigarette in the woods. Not exactly something that is going to get an actress noticed.
In the film FDR would take Daisy for rides in the countryside to help him forget the “weight of the world”. Maybe I should take a similar ride in order to forget this film?