A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood ★★★★


What a strange, lovely movie. After the success of Won't You Be My Neighbor?, I wasn't sure what else could be said about Mr. Rogers, but Marielle Heller complicates his persona and the reality of his ethos in really fascinating ways, and she dives right into the often unbearable trauma of the lead reporter of Lloyd Vogel. Their conversations are full of truth and unsettling developments, and accompanied by a performance by Tom Hanks that rattles the idea of Mr. Rogers as a person. It isn't necessarily an expose, as Lloyd initially wanted to do for Esquire, but Hanks depicts an open, kind-hearted individual who often loses sight of himself in his generosity to others, and Heller isn't afraid to have Mr. Rogers be confronted by people who aren't as open to his love. The transitions, themselves being the hand-crafted sets of the 'Mr. Rogers' world, are beautiful, as is Heller's exploration of the 'Neighborhood' set as a hand-crafted entity. A shot where Heller slowly studies Mr. Rogers as he acts out a scene as 'Daniel', the shy puppet of Make-Believe, is stunning, because she tracks the minuscule difference between Acting and Being. The final shot functions similarly, and it hits hard. You might go into A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood expecting convention, but you'll be surprised by its self-reflection and its willingness to dissect Mr. Rogers as both an odd, creepy dude and a warm creation of joy - a spectrum of people either receiving or recoiling away from his aura.

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