Anyone living outside of the United States could be forgiven for not knowing who Fred Rogers was. His status as a US national treasure born from his children’s TV show, ‘Mister Rogers Neighbourhood’. A show that ran from 1968 to 2001 on the PBS network. It may therefore, come as no surprise that Marielle Heller’s new film ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood’, may not immediately not jump out to British or European viewers. However, Heller’s film inspired by the 1998 Esquire article written by Tom Junod offers far more than a traditional biopic. Providing the audience with a heartwarming, affectionate and nuanced tale of forgiveness and family. Wrapped in beautiful and sincere performances from both Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys.
Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is an award-winning journalist who carries a reputation for hard and cutting articles on his subjects. A reputation that has slowly brought his career to grinding halt, as potential interviewees fail to accept invitations. However, Lloyd’s anger and cutting journalism finds itself tied to an estranged relationship with his father Jerry (Chris Cooper). The hurt and pain of his youth simmering in the wings of his mind as he becomes a first time Dad himself.
Therefore when Vogel’s editor suggests he write a short puff piece on the iconic children’s TV presenter Fred Rogers. Vogel finds himself both insulted and incensed, stripped of his usual investigative writing. His career at Esquire, hanging in the balance as he is instructed to write 400 words on the ageing Rogers. However, on meeting Fred, Vogel finds himself intrigued by the presenters persona. Who glows with positivity both onscreen and offscreen, countering Vogel’s scepticism. While in turn allowing the journalist to explore his inner child and begin a healing process with his ageing father.
Director: Marielle Heller