Would somebody give Bill Murray an Oscar already? When you look at his evolution as an actor—from hitting the blooms off mums with a gardening tool to this astounding portrayal of FDR—the mind reels. This film is getting mixed reviews, and I have to say I know why, but I couldn’t disagree more.
The film tells the story of a simple weekend when newly crowned King George VI (Samuel West) and his wife, Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), visit Franklin Roosevelt (Murray) at his mother’s country estate in hopes of garnering American support in the impending war. FDR, meanwhile, has begun a torrid love affair with his assistant, a distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney). Any moral reservations Daisy may have had were assuaged by the fact that the president and First Lady Eleanor (Olivia Williams) were, at least in the biblical sense, estranged. The weekend is filled with awkward moments, social mishaps and startling realizations, and several characters are forced to make difficult decisions.
This movie is strange, plain and simple. Nothing is tied in a neat little bow, parts can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and at times, it stays toward misogynistic. It’s almost hard to believe the weekend the film’s creators are depicting could have taken place. It’s also quite a leap to envision FDR as the man portrayed in the story. Nonetheless, the movie has moments of brilliance. There is a scene where the king and the president enjoy a quiet after-dinner drink that has to be one of the most charming beautifully acted scenes I have watched in ages. As I mentioned, Bill Murray’s performance is Oscar-worthy, but the film’s inconsistencies may hinder his chances. Based on his performance alone, it’s an 8.