A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

A touching biographical drama that will warm up the hearts of the harshest cynics out there

The Very Best

8.9

Movie

China, United States of America
English
Drama, History
2019
FEMALE DIRECTOR, MARIELLE HELLER
Alex Pérez, Chris Cooper, Christine Lahti
109 min

TLDR

The father of all comfort movies.

What it's about

Based on the true story of the unlikely bond between a grumpy Esquire journalist (Matthew Rhys) and iconic TV person Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks).

The take

Journalist LLoyd Vogel (Matthey Rhys) scoffs at the prospect of a profile commission, or a "puff piece", as he calls it. His self-respect and professional ruthlessness has driven people away and this assignment may well be a test from his editor. But it is serendipity that brings Lloyd to American TV host Mister Roger (Tom Hanks) and his child-oriented show, at a time when he, a new father, is confronted with his own paternal trauma. No heavy psychological lifting here, but A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood might be one of the most profound films about father-son relationships ever made. Notably, the film is directed by a woman, Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). In her film as in his show, Mister Roger doesn't have to do much: he listens, he speaks, he suggests, and while his kindness may seem frustrating at times, it is truly radical. Additionally, Lloyd's character is based loosely on writer Tom Junod, whose encounter with Rogers ended up a profile in Esquire magazine.

What stands out

The icon that Mister Roger was during the time his show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, ran between 1968 and 2001. A whole 33 years of unmatched devotion and an attitude full of softness can be condensed in two hours runtime by only one person in the world. You guessed it, that's Tom Hanks. If there ever was a perfect casting choice, this is it. Even if their physical appearances aren't as similar as one would expect from a biopic, you'll most likely finish the film convinced that Hanks is, indeed, Mister Roger. His work on the line delivery, the quiet and composed tone, the elastic cadences all build up a way more believable incarnation than any make up would. That said, in his performance, Hanks does manage to rearrange his facial mimics so that they match Fred Roger's welcoming grin and his focused look, the one that supposedly looks through the camera into the eyes of every single child watching his show.

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