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TIFF 2019 Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A jaded journalist reluctantly profiles famous children entertainer Fred Rogers who is able to find the good in everyone.

After a fight with his estranged father and gaining a reputation for tearing down his interviewees, journalist Lloyd Vogel is given, in his mind, a fluff profile to write about the host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.   The assignment turns into something much more as Vogel finds that the positive attitude and philosophy of Fred Rogers has major ramifications upon his life.

Those expecting a biopic on Fred Rogers are going to quickly discover that filmmaker Marielle Heller has decided to explore the legacy through his influence on viewers and those fortunate enough to be around him.   There are no hidden scandals or dark volatile underpinnings.  Heller is celebrating an individual who is determined to make the world a better place by treating each individual with respect and empathy.

Framing the narration in the actual format of the original children’s program is jarring at first but soon becomes a part of the cinematic experience.  The whole movie hinges on the believability of Tom Hanks and he is able to avoid going into the simpleton Forrest Gump mode and instead convey a person who honestly believes that a glass half full approach is the key to dealing with life.  There is nothing wrong with anger as long as you deal with it in a constructive manner.

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Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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