There is only one word in this world that could describe the beauty that was A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood. Put quite simply, it’s pure magic.
And while of course, you expect nothing less from lead actor Tom Hanks’ films, there’s a clear difference between meeting expectations and giving you something you never thought was possible from a cinematic experience.
“That’s a big call, Anita,” you might be thinking — however, I cannot express to you enough how much you need to see this film.
Hanks plays Mr Fred Rogers, a real-life American television personality who starred in Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood from 1968 to 2001, and centres around a very real relationship he forged with a writer from Esquire magazine.
The film is based on the true story of the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, and while it is mostly a fictional account — most notable Junod’s name change to Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys, The Americans) — the very core of Mr. Rogers is as authentic as they come.
A children’s entertainer, Mr Rogers, or Rodge as his wife Joanne (Maryann Plunkett, Blue Valentine) called him, gave the most precious gift of all to his loyal fans: the courage to be kind.
But the film wasn’t just a biopic, in fact, you don’t really learn much about Rogers’ past. No, this spectacular film is about kindness. It’s about forgiveness and it’s about hope.
Actually, if truth be told, I’ve been to many a film in recent times and never have I ever been in a cinema filled with people so enthralled by what was on screen. Not one person lifted their phone, not one person got up to use the restroom.
From the moment Hanks enters through a door and begins singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, a beautiful day for a neighbour; Would you be mine? Could you be mine? … Please won’t you be my neighbour?” — you could literally hear a pin drop.
And it wasn’t just because of Hanks’ and Rhys’ exceptional performances (and please believe me when I say exceptional).
The story also follows the fractured relationship between Vogel and his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper), and serves as a cathartic experience for anyone who has experienced such a dynamic with a parent.
At one point, Mr Rogers asks Lloyd to shift his focus from what he didn’t have, to who made him who he is today — asking him for a moment’s silence. With no background music or ambience, the audio turns silent — and you sit there in the quiet. Then, Hanks turns his attention directly to the audience, staring directly down the barrel of the camera — and right through your very soul.
It’s uncomfortable for a moment because you’re in a cinema full of strangers, but Mr Rogers is looking at “you” and asking of you the same thing. It’s by far one of the most incredible and powerful scenes I have ever seen.
So, what else can you say about a film starring Tom Hanks as a childhood hero, when, really, Hanks was your childhood hero?
He, without a doubt, was and is the only choice for such a role; and come February 10, I expect that the Academy will award him with the golden statuette for Best Supporting Actor.
In a world filled with tragedy, death, and destruction, this film is a must-see, because I guarantee that it will absolutely make you fall in love with humanity once again.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood hits Australian theatres on January 23, 2020.