Tom Hanks is one of the most watchable people on the planet. Over the Summer school holidays our family has been rewatching a lot of his classic movies. From Cast Away to Forrest Gump, he’s a got a face you can emotionally invest in. Throw in a random selection of other titles like Captain Phillips, Catch Me If You Can, Bridge of Spies, The Da Vinci Code, Saving Mr Banks, Sully and his voice work as Woody in the Toy Story series and you have a living treasure. It makes sense that he received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” at this years Golden Globes. And he absolutely deserves his nomination of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of an icon of the small screen, beloved children’s television host Mr Rogers, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
Coming to the film as a fan of Hanks pays dividends, but he’s joined by someone equally relatable in The Americans Matthew Rhys, who stars alongside Hanks as hard-hitting Esquire journalist Lloyd Vogel. In 1998 the writer was given the assignment of interviewing Fred Rogers for a 400 word article on heroes. It’s a task Vogel struggles to take seriously, until he meets Rogers on set of his famous show, where the TV host gets under his skin, subtly and gently turning the tables on the scribe, who becomes obsessed with uncovering the real Mr Rogers.
This is a beautiful and considered film, thoughtful and thought provoking, that goes in unexpected directions and much deeper than I had anticipated. Vogel has no choice but to confront his troubled upbringing, wrestling with his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) who has emerged from the shadows inserting himself in Lloyd’s life as the writer struggles to provide a better life for his newborn son than he was afforded. Despite being unfamiliar with Mister Rogers or his television work, in the hands of Hanks, the film succeeds in delivering vital and heartfelt messages about empathy, kindness, understanding and empowering children to be themselves.
4 Stars – “A Beautiful and Deeply Affecting Film”