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Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (PG)

Written by Culture, Film

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourbood (dir. Marielle Heller) attempts to pay a tribute to the famous American Television persona Mr. Rogers, played by none other than the brilliant Tom Hanks (Forest Gump, Saving Private Ryan). Hanks has the quality to awaken sympathy in the audience by bringing a compassionate charm to his characters and Rogers is no exception.

The film opens with vibrant tones of a make-believe neighbourhood and a realistic Rogers, who discusses the value of “forgiveness” and how it is difficult to heal from the pain caused by “our loved ones”. Within a few minutes of the opening credits, Hanks introduces the therapeutic and cathartic aura of the film; qualities personified by the famous Mr. Rogers who was often called a “Saint” by his fans much to the dismay of his wife, Joanne Rogers.

Matthew Rhys (The Americans, Brothers & Sisters) plays the character of Lloyd Vogel an investigative journalist who is known for his provoking pieces. He has been assigned to do a feature on Rogers’, someone who falls out of his comfort zone. Under authoritative pressure and with a sense of scepticism, he has no choice but to meet with Rogers to finish his piece. However, his interviews lead him to face his own past and heal from the people and pain who have contributed to the making of his being.

Rhys portrays Tom Junod’s character with utmost sincerity and vulnerability

The film quite uniquely in the storytelling, make-believe style of Rogers’ show turns the cinematic world into Mr. Rogers’ neighbourhood with toy models weaving one narrative sequence to another. In a way, the entire film itself becomes an episode of the show and Lloyd becomes the character through whom Rogers teaches the value of forgiveness, acceptance and healing. Rhys portrays Tom Junod’s character with utmost sincerity and vulnerability; someone who in Rogers’ word is “a man with conviction”. 

However, the film depicts the life of Llyod much more intimately than it does Rogers’. In some ways, Mr. Rogers becomes a neighbour who often frequents Lloyd’s narrative, but his own fails to be accounted for, in the depth the film title otherwise suggests. But Hanks being the soulful and adept actor that he is portrays Rogers’ character with so much warmth and ingenuity that he definitely makes a permanent home in the viewers’ hearts. 

Rating: 4/5

Last modified: 5th February 2020

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