Duration: 108 minutes
Story: Tom Hanks takes on the role of Mr Rogers, who helps an award-winning but cynical Esquire journalist to take a new approach towards his toxic relationship with dying father.
Review: Based on the 1998 article Can You Say ... Hero? by Tom Junod, published in Esquire magazine, the film, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, brings you along on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Directed by Marielle Heller, known for The Diary of a Teenage Girl, the film brings the television personality, Mister Rogers, on the screen played by Tom Hanks.
The film is the story of Lloyd Vogel, a journalist through the eyes of Mister Rogers and his show. We see in action, how the show and Fred Rogers himself helps Lloyd deal with his emotions and issues. Lloyd Vogel and his sister were abandoned by their father, Jerry, at a young age while their mother was on her death bed. Years later, as Lloyd becomes a father himself, he finds out Jerry wants to amend their relationship. They first meet at his sister's wedding, but Lloyd's hatred for his father comes out through a fistfight that leaves him with a bloodied nose.
The film starts with an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Fred Rogers introduces us, his new neighbours to his new friend Lloyd who has a bloodied nose. Lloyd has been hurt by his loved one and feels angry. Lloyd and Fred, first meet when Llyod is given an assignment to profile Fred Rogers for their upcoming magazine issue about Heros.
Lloyd who has developed an image in the industry was rejected by every potential hero to be interviewed expect Fred. He travels to Pittsburgh to interview the beloved TV personality, but is convinced his nice persona is just an act. With an intend to expose him, Lloyd begins to interact more with Fred. Fred Rogers, on the other hand, is deeply concerned about Lloyd's nose injury and begins to ask him about his relationship with his father, Jerry. Their growing interaction leads to Fred encouraging him to forgive his father and let go of the anger he has been holding for his mother.
I have not watched a single episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but by just witnessing Tom Hanks portrayal of his character with such conviction, it made me want to watch the age-old show. There are two aspects to the story, and both have their own personality. While we see Fred Rogers as the formidable force of everyone's childhood we also see Lloyd's story of love, betrayal and heartbreak. Writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster blend both stories beautifully. Both sides have their own tone and feel but it doesn't distort the narrative of the story. Almost every dialogue said by Tom Hanks, can be turned into an inspirational poster. And very second scene has something to teach you, all while the film stays as real and genuine as one can be.
In every scene, where Fred and Lloyd are seen together, it has a very visual tense environment because of their different ideologies. But as soon as Fred starts taking it all just melts away, with a feeling of warmth. At first, the unusual narrative and slow pace of the film kept me from connecting with it, but within the first 20 minutes of the film, I found myself waiting to see what happens next.
A scene in the film shows, the two having dinner together in a restaurant, when Fred suggests they hold a minute of silence so that Lloyd can recall all the people who 'loved him into being'. That one scene can sum up the film, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood will remind you of everything good and bad in your life, and still make you feel it is ok. The narrative has the power to make you cry and laugh within seconds, and leave with your a sign of relief wanting for more.
Fred, in the end, has a great influence on Lloyd's life. But we also get to see Fred Rogers wasn't perfect, he wasn't a saint. He was a man trying his best to be best forever, to be kind and to give as much as he can. Director Marielle Heller has used two sets of resolutions, one for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, analogue tv resolutions were used, which changed to film texture for the story off the show's set. The music and background score used from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is sure to big back childhood memories for the people who have watched the show growing up, and for those of you who haven't, you will still find comfort in them.
Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers and Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel have great chemistry, from strangers, their relationship grows into friendship. The film sees Fred Rogers as an idol, but he only wanted to be your neighbour and Tom Hanks portrays Fred right in between, without edging over mimicry he shows us a kind-hearted man, who listens, wants to help and was idolized by so many.
Overall, A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood is an experience one must not miss. For it, stands way beyond the self-help cliches and makes you want to be a better person.
Fun Fact: I can't remember the last time, I laughed and cried in the same movie so many times, back and forth. Eventually just watching Tom Hanks makes you teary eyes, don't forget to carry a lot of tissues.