Film review: Anglo-American relations, FDR-style

Hyde Park On Hudson (12A) ***** Eastgate, Peebles

The smallest detail and the least conspicuous incident contain pearls of wisdom.

The story of Hyde Park On Hudson is personal, involving a US president and a British king – and numerous women of high intellect.

The direction, writing and acting are of such pristine quality that preconceptions of a nostalgic back rub, with dramatic undertones and historical wish fulfillment, are ambushed by subtlety and emotional truth.

Daisy (Laura Linney) is a distant cousin of FDR (Bill Murray) and lives not far from the country house where he stays when not in Washington.

She is shy, discreet and over 30, and her experience of the world is literary and limited.

She cares for an aged aunt (Eleanor Bron), aware that her mind is ossifying beneath the weight of routine.

And then the call comes through. Would she like to join the Roosevelts for the summer?

The year is 1939.

War clouds gather across Europe. The new king and queen of Britain (Samuel West – a touch porky – and Olivia Colman – thoughts of Peep Show keep getting in the way) arrive for the weekend on a diplomatic visit, while Daisy’s relationship with FDR explores forbidden territory.

The delicate balance between fidelity, impropriety and social mores is achieved with admirable skill.

The royals appear as comic relief compared to the heart of the matter which redefines the meaning of love and loyalty.