Warm Springs (DVD)
He was the only president to be elected three times, and is admired for his leadership during some of this nation's most challenging times, most notably, World War II and the Great Depression. Despite these historic accomplishments, many Americans have never known of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's greatest achievement...until now. Starring Kenneth Branagh (Shakespeare) and Cynthia Nixon(Sex and the City) this inspiring true story reveals one man's secret quest for hope during his darkest days, in a place that would serve as a source of strength for him the rest of his life: Warm Springs.
is a riveting, deeply moving film about a lesser-known chapter in the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American president who saw his country through the dark, terrible times of the Great Depression and most of World War II. Before those epochal events, however, Roosevelt spent time in a political wilderness, groomed for high office but struck down by polio at age 39. Warm Springs
is the fascinating story of Roosevelt's painful journey from despair back to wisdom and leadership. Kenneth Branagh gives an emotionally raw, courageous performance as FDR, estranged from his wife, Eleanor (a near-luminous Cynthia Nixon), and his political guru (David Paymer) while ambivalently seeking rehabilitation at Warm Springs, a broken-down spa in the backwoods of Georgia. Mired in misery, misanthropy, and drink, Roosevelt is coaxed back to civilized behavior and a glimmer of altruism by the spa's ailing, folksy manager, Tom Loyless (a remarkable Tim Blake Nelson), and the ministrations of a progressive-minded, physical therapist (solid work by Kathy Bates). Word of Roosevelt's improvement in the buoyant, mineral-rich waters of Warm Springs draws other polio victims--some of whom endure terrible discrimination and misery while travelingto the spa. In time, these hopeful, all-ages paraplegics form a community that inspires a sense of mission in Roosevelt, setting the stage for his return to the political arena. Surehanded, 80-year-old veteran director Joseph Sargent (on a roll following his lovely, 2004 cable movie Something the Lord Made
) has made a pitch-perfect and intimate, historical drama one never wants to see end. --Tom Keogh