Based on the private journals of Margaret Lynch Suckley, a distant relative of Franklin D Roosevelt, Roger Michell’s misfiring comedy recalls an important meeting between America and Britain on the eve of the Second World War.
This highly charged period in history should provide a vibrant backdrop to Hyde Park On Hudson as two nations prepared for a protracted conflict with Germany.
Instead, Michell’s film largely ignores impending doom to focus on personal relationships at the New York country estate where President Roosevelt prepared to welcome King George VI and his wife Elizabeth.
It was the first visit across the Atlantic by a reigning British monarch and the eyes of the world were fixed on Hudson Valley in the summer of 1939.
Our eyes, meanwhile, search for structure in Richard Nelson’s muddled script, which brings together these historical figures but fails to milk genuine emotion from their turmoil.
Feverish media interest is glimpsed through the eyes of Daisy (Laura Linney), who describes herself as fifth or sixth cousin to the president.
Living in obscurity with her aunt (Eleanor Bron), Daisy is unexpectedly summoned to the side of the 32nd president (Bill Murray) in the hope that she can take his mind off the hoopla surrounding the British royals (Samuel West, Olivia Colman).
Daisy arrives at the house with preparations in full swing, masterminded by Franklin’s formidable mother, Mrs Roosevelt (Elizabeth Wilson), and his acid-tongued wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams), who has publicised details of the meeting in a column she writes.
These plans include a picnic, at which the main course will be plates of hot dogs.
‘Are they trying to make fun of us?’ Elizabeth asks her husband, staring aghast at cartoons on their bedroom wall which lampoon the British military.
Amid this whirl of activity, Daisy develops a close bond to Franklin and they become lovers.
However, Daisy isn’t Franklin’s only means of distraction and she must learn to share the man in power with others in his inner social circle.