Through the nineties, Tom Hanks won two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor and was nominated for another. In 2000, he was nominated again and frankly should have won, again. In all, he won Oscars for ‘Philadelphia’ (1993) and ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994), was not, instead of for ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998) and ‘Cast Away’ (2000) but incredibly despite Oscar-calibre work, he has not been nominated in nearly two decades. During that time he deserved nominations for ‘Road to Perdition’ (2002), a Supporting Actor nomination in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ (2002), ‘Captain Phillips’ (2012), ‘Bridge of Spies’ (2015) and ‘Sully’ (2017), all worthy performances for which he was snubbed.
Why would the Academy choose to snub, or pass over one of the most beloved, brilliant and successful actors of his time? Who knows, but it has been wrong, not to mention cruel.
For his spot-on performance as children’s TV host Fred Rogers, best known as Mr Rogers, Hanks might find himself an Oscar nominee again. It is uncanny watching him enter through that door on what we know is a set, pull on that red cardigan with the zipper, all the while singing the title song. In those moments, Hanks very quietly, yet completely becomes Rogers. His eyes twinkle with decency, with hope, and though this guy may seem saintly, he was real, what you saw was what you got. Rogers, on TV and off believed the world could be a better place if we all practised kindness. In this day and age, under the leadership in the US, kindness is needed more than ever.
A cynical, seen-it-all writer is sent to profile Mr Rogers, not believing anyone can be as good as he has heard he is. Yet the more time he spends with the man, the more he opens up to him and finds maybe Rogers is profiling him, getting to know and understand him. There is something zen-like in his performance, something very comforting, like Rogers himself, something real. From the moment he slips on that red cardigan it is as though Mr Rogers had taken possession of his soul. Matthew Rhys is Lloyd, the very serious writer assigned to explore Rogers but instead finds the good man probing him for answers about his life, his demons. Rogers asks the journalist to love himself, love thy neighbour, love the world around him, see the goodness in everyone, believing, truly, these are the answers to a good life.
Both actors are superb, with Hanks at his finest, delivering one of the best performances of his career. He goes far beyond the mannerisms and voice, he finds the gentle spirit of the man, he brings to us his soul, and what a fine gentle soul it is. Nicely directed by Marielle Heller, the film is solid. I was hoping for a complete biopic, but this was fine because Hanks shines so very bright.
The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5
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