It’s true that 2019 has been a hard year, some might say a toxic year. Politics and wars and the fears of climate change has dampened people’s spirits. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” reminds the world of forgiveness and consideration.
At first, one might think that the movie would be a biographical look at the life of Fred Rogers, played by Tom Hanks, but instead the film focuses more on a particular relationship Rogers had built and how his views of the world have influenced people – well, the movie only features one family he deeply touched.
The casting for Mr. Rogers was perfect. No one other than Tom Hanks would be able to capture the compassionate television host and his relationship with the fictional and extremely cynical investigative reporter for the magazine “Esquire,” Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). The story was loosely based off a magazine article written by Tom Junod from some 20 years ago.
The performance from everyone was absolutely stellar. Hanks perfectly displays the mannerisms of Rogers, from the thoughtful pauses to his heart-warming smile. Granted, it did take a while for my brain to switch from seeing it as Hanks playing Mr. Rogers to him actually merging with the role, but once that happened it’s as though the actor completely disappeared.
What made the acting seem even more real was the accuracy that the movie was able to portray regarding the way “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” was actually set up. Side by side, you wouldn’t even know the difference. It immerses the audience into the movie, making it seem overly personal in the best way.
However, Rogers is only present for around half the run time of the actual movie, giving the rest of the cast a chance to showcase their talents. Rhys makes playing a broken soul seem natural. His character’s fears and arguments regarding his father (Chris Cooper) transcend the audience and tug at the heart strings. Watching the transformation from jaded to caring, all because of one person, is moving.
At times Rogers feels more like a plot device than an actual character, but when he’s on screen, it’s as though there isn’t a fictional story taking place. It’s all beautifully directed to make it seem as though Rogers is talking directly to the audience, making everyone feel seen and exposed in a humbling way.
The movie makes you want to be a better person, truly. It inspires kindness.