A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is an investigative journalist who likes to get to the truth of any situation is sent to interview Mr Rogers (Tom Hanks), a beloved TV presenter and bona fide national treasure. As he works to get his story Lloyd begins to open up to Mr Rogers and the lines blur over who’s really the interviewer and interviewee.

Mr Rogers might be a name that doesn’t mean too much to people here in the UK, but in the US he’s a national institution. I’ve heard people talk about Mr Rogers and reference in pop-culture but I’ve never actually seen him in action.

Tom Hanks seems to be the perfect choice for a man who was honest, decent and loved and cared for seemingly everyone. My overriding thought throughout the entire film was ‘surely he’s too good to be true’, as Rogers seems to care to an almost alien degree about everyone. Surely a person can’t be that good? I was expecting a sinister reveal at some point where we see behind the mask of Fred Rogers. The reality is that he seemingly is just a genuinely good person, and my perceptions of childhood TV personalities has been skewed by the scandals in the UK.

I was expecting A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood to be a straight up biopic and in some ways it is but it’s not entirely what it seems, unlike Mr Rogers. The story is more interested in understanding Lloyd and the relationship with his own father and his life as a new father himself. Mr Rogers acts as guide for Lloyd as he tries to discover what’s really important in life.

My biggest issue with the film was that the pacing felt a little off, things seemed to be happening and progressing in a certain way and then all of a sudden things lurch towards a resolution out of nowhere. Things just seemed to fall in a certain place and the story seemed to shift too quickly for my tastes.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is an interesting film that lifts the lid on a remarkable man that until now I knew very little about. The film is held up by some excellent performances from Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper (as Lloyd’s father Jerry) and a smart script. It’s an engaging tale of an inspirational man and his wide-reaching impact on the world around him.

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