Sounds like an interesting, or at least potentially amusing, movie. The Royals come to the USA for the first time and get served hot dogs! After all, the stuttering issues of this same king made a fine film in The King’s Speech.
But, and it is a big but, that is not what this film is about.
It is actually more about the romantic relationship Roosevelt had with a distant cousin. Apparently documents were uncovered revealing this relationship, which was in addition to other romantic dalliances. This might sound good too except that not all such affairs are terribly interesting and this one isn’t. It may well be that neither of these historical events were enough to base a movie on so they became cobbled together. Who knows but it just doesn’t work.
Murray’s performance is uneven. You don’t get any sense of him inhabiting the role or really becoming Roosevelt. There are some stand-out scenes—where he interacts with the young King for instance—but most of the movie just sits there, waiting to end. He does his best to imitate FDR’s voice and does a creditable job there but Roosevelt spoke differently in different circumstances. He presumably wasn’t always giving a speech or a fireside chat. And when you have an accent it usually doesn’t go away.
The visit of the King and Queen should have been enough to build the movie around and it is, in that part of the film, where the potential lies. Linney gives it her best but there just isn’t much there to grab on to—she had an affair with the President. It might have been shocking in ’39 but in the post-Clinton world? Not really anything to get to wound up about. The affair is a curiosity and as more of the plot is revealed the affair seems less and less significant.
It just doesn’t work. It isn’t unbearable or irritating but the dual plots, affair on one side and royal visit o the other, shortchanges both. Murray also misses a chance at a more creditable, a more noteworthy, representation of an American icon.