A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood Review
Sony Pictures Releasing
What’s It About?
A look at American children’s TV presenter Fred Rogers, and the real-life friendship that developed between him and journalist Tom Junod.
Who’s In It?
Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Cast Away, & more recently The Post)
Matthew Rhys (The Edge Of Love, The Americans, & more recently The Post)
Other notables include:
Chris Cooper (American Beauty, Adaptation, & more recently Little Women)
Director: Marielle Heller (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Mr Rogers is an institution in America. Anyone who grew up in the States between the late ‘60s and the early 2000s will have a warm fuzzy feeling when the hear the name of Mr Rogers and his calm, reassuring presence, encouraging kids through his songs and his puppets to talk about their feelings. Unfortunately anyone on this side of the pond won’t have the foggiest about him, but think a cross between Playschool, Sesame Street and a touch of Blue Peter.
Naturally the lack of recognition is quite the stumbling block for European audiences, but director Marielle Heller soon makes the audience forget this fact, lulling them into a warm comfy blanket of a film. And the sublime performances of the ever reliable Tom Hanks as Mr Rogers, and Matthew Rhys as the cynical hack looking to find the real Rogers add immeasurably to that comforting feeling.
The film tells the true story of an award-winning journalist famed for his no-holds-barred interviews, who is asked by Esquire to go and interview Mr Rogers. Naturally cynical, Lloyd Vogel goes to remove this comforting exterior and find out the real Mr Rogers, warts and all.
Yet, he is completely disarmed by this intelligent and almost ecclesiastical father figure, who is more interested in the interviewee than talking about himself. As their relationship develops, Vogel soon starts to learn more about himself and it encourages him to lay to bed some of the friction between him and his father.
Beautifully shot, with two sublime lead performances, A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood is a comforting and fascinating film, which somehow manages to avoid the pitfalls of mawkishness.
Cynic that I am, it fortunately never went to the dark place I had expected it to go following the news stories surrounding many British childhood presenters in recent years
In A Nutshell:
A charming, heart-warming film with two sublime performances that avoids any mawkishness.
Tom Hanks – as usual
It struggles to get the pulse-racing too much