TIFF 2019 Review: A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Wants You To Feel Loved – Birth.Movies.Death.

TIFF 2019 Review: A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Wants You To Feel Loved – Birth.Movies.Death.

Bring the tissues for Marielle Heller’s Mister Rogers movie. By Abby Olcese Sep. 11, 2019 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood didn’t have to be great. It could’ve settled for fine. After all, this is a movie about Mister Rogers, one of America’s most beloved public figures, in which Mister Rogers is played by Tom Hanks, one of America’s most beloved actors. The bar for enjoyment was pretty low. A mild biopic, while definitely not exciting, would have been enough to attract large audiences and awards attention. But, of course, when you hire Marielle Heller to direct a character-based movie about empathy, you’re not going to get “fine.” You’re going to get much more. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood delivers the touching beats you’d expect from a movie featuring Fred Rogers, modern-day saint and spiritual guardian of millions of heartfelt tears. However, it does so using a more creative framework than you might expect, and has genuine curiosity about Rogers. The movie doesn’t try to make him knowable—in fact it ultimately decides that he is unknowable—but it does make a strong case for the everyday kindness and deep selflessness he exhibited. The main character of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is not Fred Rogers, but Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), an investigative reporter for Esquire who’s been assigned to profile Rogers for an issue on heroes. Lloyd is a new father, but still has major issues with his own dad (Chris Cooper) that have kept him from fully engaging with his family. Lloyd’s time spent with Rogers, based on the real-life relationship between Rogers and writer Tom Junod, eventually grows into a true friendship. Rogers helps Lloyd embrace emotional vulnerability and forgive his dad for the wrongs he caused him and his sister Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard). This isn’t just a clichéd story of a magical kind person helping a jaded journalist regain his humanity (but again, even if it were, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood would still manage to be perfectly fine). Heller and screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster want the audience to actively experience Rogers’ kindness the way that Lloyd does. To achieve this, Heller presents Lloyd’s story in the framework of an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, with Rogers sitting down and introducing us to his friend Lloyd via a conversation about anger and forgiveness. B-roll and montages are often shown using the aesthetics of the show—model cars crossing a highway, or toy planes flying through the sky, or a magazine printing montage presented like one of the show’s trademark factory visit videos. Those fourth wall breaks also bring us the film’s most powerful moment (and the one that kicked off a chorus of sniffles at my Toronto screening which lasted the rest of runtime). Lloyd visits Rogers at a particularly low moment for him. As the two men sit together at a Chinese restaurant, Rogers asks Lloyd to think about all of the people in his life who “loved you into existence.” But he’s
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