Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor.
This could so easily have been sentimental Hollywood pap about settling family feuds. Instead, it's a thoughtful, textured contemplation of how we can effectively deal with our expectations, disappointments and imperfections. It is true, as others have pointed out, that the female roles are ciphers, which might be considered a surprising weakness in a film directed by a woman. Nonetheless, Marielle Heller, who did such an excellent job on CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? also steers this movie superbly, handling the performances and the screenplay's playful shifts of tone with great assurance.
The central trio -- Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper -- are reliably terrific.
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