Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. He approaches the interview with skepticism, as he finds it hard to believe that anyone can have such a good nature.
But Roger’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.
“The Chairman” – The character/real-life personality of Fred Rodgers is rather unknown to South African audiences even though he was a staple of Americana Pop Culture. His liberal and tolerant thinking would probably have been frowned upon by the Apartheid regime.
I had to do a bit of research on Fred Rodgers and the children’s show he hosted in order to have a bit of context for this man and the special place he held in the American physique.
As for the movie, Tom Hanks totally embodies Fred Rodgers. His cadence and speech patterns so closely resemble the man is actually pretty scary.
They play a clever trick on the audience here, instead of rehashing the life of Fred Rodgers they filmmaker isolates a point in time near the end of his career and his interactions with a jaded “non believer”. Fred is being interviewed for the New Yorkers’ piece on the 100 most influential Americans, and his interviewer Vogel has deep seeded pain and resentment directed at his father.
Fred Rodgers breaks down Vogel’s walls throughout the interview process and we also learn that while Fred is revived for his calm and measured approach to the struggles of life, he himself has issues that needs Vogel help to resolve.
The performance of Hanks is a standout, but Matthew Rhys & Chris Cooper provide the perfect foils. Excellent acting all round, the pacing of the movie might cause some to become disengaged but that is a nit-pick. Get the tissues out for this one.
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