Thanks to Sony Pictures, we had the chance to see ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood’ before its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is based on the Esquire magazine profile of Mr Rogers, the beloved children’s television host and creator of ‘Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood’. Lloyd Vogel, a cynical journalist is told to write a profile on Mr Rogers. Vogel unexpectedly develops a strong friendship with Mister Rogers, which forces him to confront traumas from his past.
This is the third film directed by Marielle Heller and each film has been met with critical acclaim. Heller succeeds in creating a film with a unique style, as the film takes on the structure of an episode of the Mr Rogers show. The film also incorporates elements of magical realism through dream sequences that Lloyd experiences.
A Beautiful Day In the Neighbourhood turns out to be the story of Mr Vogel, not Mr Rogers. The film succeeds in giving audiences a unique look into the challenges of a man holding onto resentments from his childhood whilst struggling to adapt to life as a new father. This exploration of a man’s emotional vulnerability is not often shown in cinema, making it refreshing to see this as the main thread of the film.
Tom Hanks transforms into Mr Rogers. His mannerisms and intonations are almost identical to the real life figure. Hanks also delivers a restrained performance as he doesn’t overshadow the protagonist Lloyd (Matthew Rhys).
There are many moments of the film that feel self indulgent and the message of ‘cynic becomes a believer’ does come across heavy handed at times. Though overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood tugs at the heartstrings and is a warm story that teaches positive lessons about forgiveness and compassion.