Marielle Heller's biopic about Fred Rogers is a wonderful parable about patience and loving-kindness
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD GALA D: Marielle Heller. U.S. 107 min. Sep 8, 3:15 pm, Princess of Wales Sep 14, 2:30 pm, Elgin. Rating: NNNN
Just a year after Morgan Neville’s documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? celebrated the mission of the beloved children’s television host, Heller’s biopic elaborates on the enduring grace of Fred Rogers, as interpreted by America’s current beatific father figure Tom Hanks. And after the self-loathing study of Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Heller has made a movie about patience and loving-kindness.
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster’s screenplay uses a 1998 Esquire cover story as its hook, with Matthew Rhys playing “Lloyd Vogel,” a heavily fictionalized version of writer Tom Junod, whose interactions with Rogers help him resolve his own childhood issues.
I’d compare it to Green Book, but that would give the wrong impression where that film was a mediocrity elevated by two very committed actors, this one works all the way through, with Heller making stylistic choices that create a space where the story’s artifice becomes essential, rather than a distraction.
It’s a parable. And it’s kind of wonderful.