A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood - This Movie Rocks - Beautifully
Dir: Marielle Heller
Starring Matthew Rhys, Tom Hanks, Chris Cooper
What the world needs now is love, sweet love…or simply a beautiful day in the neighbourhood. Those outside of North America who saw Morgan Neville’s sublime doc Won’t You Be My Neighbour? last year, will already be familiar with Mister Fred Rogers.
For those that didn’t, Heller’s film – and Hanks’ performance – will more than ably suffice.
Fred Rogers was the host of a children’s TV show (Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood) that remained a beacon of simple honest kindness and humanity, and often progressive education, for decades.
Rather than focus on Rogers, Heller zooms in on Rhys’ damaged journalist (the film takes it lead from a 1998 Esquire article) who is reluctantly assigned to profile the seeming saint-like TV host and ordained minister. In the relationship the movie explores however, it is Rogers who comes to dominate, his quiet reserve and genuine compassion coming to have the same influence over the emotionally embattled journalist, as Rogers exuded over the numerous generations of children he had a hand in raising. A scene on a subway where the kids present spot Rogers and start to sing his theme tune is beautifully touching (and whilst it can’t help but echo Darkest Hour’s Churchill on the tube moment, it is much more accomplished.)
Any Mister Rogers movie is only as good as your Mister Rogers. And in Tom Hanks, Heller has found sheer perfection. Quite correctly Oscar nominated, Hanks is both restrained yet emotive, at times almost ethereal, but always drawn as a man who may well have struggled with his own humanity, but, by the time we meet him here, has come to terms with a rare form of solace. He is the opposite to Rhys’ excellently delivered discordant soul, and convincing enough to persuade us he really is his balm.
Go see it – you’ll have a Beautiful Day.