Directed by: Roger Michell
Ah, the things we simply don’t know about our Presidents. Margaret “Daisy” Suckley was not only a distant cousin and as an archivist, of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but — according to her own diaries and letters — an intimate friend, and confidante for FDR. It was through these writings (published after her death in 1991 at nearly 100, that we learned how “close” her relationship was with FDR. The nature of that relationship is depicted in this film which took place at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson in upstate New York in the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America.
As it turns out, Roosevelt (Murray), who was something of a ladies’ man in spite of his polio, and Daisy (Linney) had a sexual relationship which apparently started up that summer of ’39, putting Daisy smack dab in the center of the Royal visit as the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support in the war with Germany that everyone knows is coming. The entire weekend event is seen through the eyes of Daisy, as the President and the King forge a special relationship between their two great nations. However, Daisy herself gains a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship, as both she, and the King of England come to observe the very human side of the President.
Told in quiet, human terms this is the story of two very lonely people — one the President of the United States, and the other a simple country woman — who found friendship and companionship in the company of each other. Bill Murray turns in an excellent performance as FDR excellently conveying both the strength and vulnerability of the President, from his disability to his understanding and command of the finer points of the Royal visit. This is a wonderful film that deserves to be seen.
As with the film Lincoln we learned some very interesting things about the Presidency. Apparently FDR would often drive his own (specially outfitted) car through the back woods of upstate NY without any substantial protection (where he often went with Daisy), and that the p Presidential press corps would actually respect the President’s wishes to not be photographed (not only was FDR not often photographed in a wheelchair, but one seen from the film has the President and the King passing by a gaggle of photographers dressed in swim trunks and not being photographed (the President asked them not to).
All-in-all, a quiet and unassuming film that simply results in a pleasant night out.