Australians don’t know Mr Rogers, and that being the case it should make this film less accessible to us, but that’s really not the case. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is a jaunt into childhood and a reminder of the child that still lives in each of us.
Based upon an article written by journalist Tom Junod which sparked a real-life friendship with Mr Rogers, the film takes its name from a song performed by the legendary American children’s presenter Fred Rogers on his program Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, which was a staple in American children’s programming and aired for decades.
Directed by Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Can You Ever Forgive Me?), starring legend Tom Hanks, who has received an Academy Award Nomination for his portrayal of Fred Rogers, and Matthew Rhys, as a jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel, this movie is a step back into childhood and the memories of characters, worlds and songs you loved, and a step forward into the profile of an insightful and lovely man who is exactly what he appeared to be.
What makes this film so timely and special is how in a climate of tainted childhood memories in which many of the faces we grew up with have since been uncovered and convicted as abusers, Mr Rogers was a man who was honest, kind and genuine. This film highlights how strange and wonderful that is.
In places it’s very uncomfortable and emotional, making you feel like you’re truly being seen. It will make you cry and has this beautiful, quiet sense of belonging running beneath everything.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood not only lets you believe in things being what they seem but also re-educates you on emotion and honesty. For as much as the film is about Mr Rogers, it is also about how we forget ourselves and how to deal with feelings. The film wants to pull you towards the dark and the gritty — that being our expectation of the world, but stops you short every time.