Bill Murray is a comedy LEGEND and an American favorite. Everyone just about has a favorite Bill Murray moment or movie. Whats not to like he has a style that is truly his own and a swagger that draws you despite not being the type that craves the labels. While always being a good actor it’s only in the last 15 or so years that people have stood up and taken notice that he can act beyond his comedic roots. With a few roles several years ago that showed this such as Where The Buffalo Roam in which he portrayed Hunter S. Thompson and 1984’s The Razor’s Edge he primarily stuck with his comedic roots, and why not it had served him so well for so long. in 1998 he made Rushmore with visionary director Wes Anderson and suddenly he wasn’t Carl Spackler or Dr. Peter Venkman anymore, he was an actor.
In 2004 he was honored with his first Academy Award nomination for his outstanding performance in Lost In Translation for which he was visibly disappointed that he was the recipient. 9 years later he just may be poised for his second Oscar nomination for his unbelievable portrayal of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt. A most unlikely choice on the film maker behalf, but one that will prove to be a proud choice. The film is Hyde Park On Hudson with whom he co-stars along side the always great Laura Linney.
The story is one of an affair the president had with an extremely distant cousin that carried on for years when he would retreat to Hyde Park, NY of which he was quite fond of doing much of his work from there. During the early stages of the affair a monumental occasion occurred when the new king of England became the first king to visit American soil in history. King George VI affectionately known as Bertie, who was recently portrayed by Academy Award winner Colin Firth in The Kings Speech, was very new to his position and felt it best to visit the US and the president to keep up relations. Over a weekend in Hyde Park the king and president formed a very special relationship that proved vital as WWII would shortly break out a few weeks later.
What is most intriguing was that you had to fine men in positions of great power that at the same time had great flaws, Bertie with his stutter and Roosevelt with his partial paralysis. The film has a fine moment when the two converse late one night and the president clearly seems to instill a great confidence in the king when they both realize many similarities in each other.
Over the same weekend the president’s affair with his cousin, Daisy quickly becomes threatened and almost comes to a complete halt.
The film is a fine story and well told but it’s not without rhythmic issues and has several slow moments. It is without question carried on the shoulders of Murray’s performance. It’s not a story that has you drawn in within seconds and has some difficulty keeping you there. It is though a good movie that deserves to be soon for Murray alone.
Murray shows the often unknown and unseen humorous side the president Roosevelt and does it with great perfection. His portrayal is one of the great performances of a historical figure in recent years. The one flaw in his award chances may be he happens to be against another fine actor playing an iconic president in Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln. It’s a story every years where a deserving actor comes away empty handed because someone just happens to be on another level.
Murray’s day will come at some point. His commitment to taking great roles and being someone different every time only proves that. Unfortunately we will have to wait a little longer.