Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood ends up being a brilliant affair that was actually less about Mr. Rogers and more about those around him which is exactly what he would have wanted.
It’s a timely story rooted in the need for kindness around the world, and it’s based on the true story of the friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and a jaded journalist Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys), who after being assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbour.
This isn’t the story of Fred Rogers, and quite frankly he wouldn’t have wanted it to be which is why Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood works so well. It’s about someone who needs some help, which is what Mr. Rogers was all about.
Director Marielle Heller coming off of the brilliance of last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me gives us a movie that is so well framed and structured that it sneaks up on us as an audience. It’s all an episode of his show with a subject who needed to learn compassion and empathy for his fellow man once again. It all looks amazing and plays with such subtle nuance that we just don’t care how we’re getting manipulated as an audience.
Tom Hanks was note perfect as Mr. Rogers but it all hinges on Matthew Rhys as our cynical reporter who finds himself in lockstep with Hanks’ character en route to finding some compassion and love in his life again.