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New DVDs

“Hyde Park on Hudson” rolls out on DVD Tuesday. Star ratings are by Seattle Times movie reviewers, freelancers or wire services. For full reviews, search the movie title at Release dates are subject to change.

2.5 stars“Hyde Park on Hudson” (R): Choosing Bill Murray to play Franklin D. Roosevelt makes an inspired choice, his combination of natural appeal and oddly recessive diffidence melding flawlessly with FDR’s own hidden depths. What’s more, the political capital Murray has earned with audiences over the years turns out to be crucial in this alternately charming and unsettling story, which transpires over a pivotal summer weekend in 1939, when Britain’s King George VI visited Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley estate in order to gain the U.S. president’s support in the coming war.

That also was a time, the movie suggests, when Roosevelt was pursuing one of a number of extramarital affairs, in this case with a distant cousin named Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney), who narrates the film.

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The problem with the film isn’t its suggestion of FDR’s dark side; that complexity, and Murray’s spot-on portrayal of a man juggling myriad pressures and demands, marks one of the film’s greatest strengths. It’s that Daisy rarely comes into her own as more than the pliant emotional helpmeet to the Great Man.


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