A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) Review and Discussion

“Anything human is mentionable, and anything mentionable is manageable.”


One of the things you are taught as a writer is to think about how everyone has a problem. Everyone has a flaw, a thing that is troubling them, a desire they can’t reach. When you are dealing with your emotions and struggling with mental health, this can be a tough exercise as the problem you are facing becomes the biggest thing in the world – a personal mountain that blindsides you to your surroundings and disrupts everything you do.

As I mentioned in my Joker and Frozen 2 Discussion, I am a big believer in voicing your thoughts and feelings. Talking about the things you’re struggling with doesn’t fix everything, but finding someone you can share your worries with can help wonders. Not only can you find similarities and help find solutions to try, but it helps you start to realise that the writing exercise is right – everyone has their own personal struggle.

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I suppose I should get on to talking about the film we saw today – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. I live in the UK, so Mr Rogers wasn’t a big part of my childhood. In fact, the first time I’d heard of him was when he died and I asked a friend of mine from the US who he was. The only part I have seen of his show is the opening, which Tom Hanks recreates beautifully in the film. The second-hand nostalgia I was feeling from this re-creation was unreal and I immediately was enraptured into a childhood dream that was safe and welcoming.

We’ve all seen these films where they take a look at a real person’s life story – Rush and Walk the Line come to mind –  but Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood takes a different stance on this. We follow Lloyd Vogel, an investigative journalist whose job is to look into people’s lives and dig out the dirt – something you expect these types of films to do. However, his manager just wants him to write a ‘fluff piece’ on Mr Rogers – perhaps something you would expect from a ‘film about Mr Rogers’ to do. Instead we focus on Lloyd’s journey for at least a third of the film before even seeing Mr Rogers.

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Lloyd is struggling to cope with his past, which has left him angry and sad. Choosing to focus on a secondary character that Mr Rogers is helping was an excellent script decision – the man dedicated his time to making programmes to help children, so removing the focus away from the man and more to his effect on the world and individuals was a clever move.

I love films that can make me cry (or any other strong emotion) and boy is this a weeper! But not for the reason that its sad just to make you sad. The ending really hit home for me as it discusses the issue of death and the fear surrounding it. One of the things that I have been struggling with over the last few years is thanatophobia, and I suppose many, if not most, of us have trouble with this at some part in our lives. Just like talking to a friend, the film offers no answers, nor even any words of comfort like ‘it will be ok’, but it does offer an address. It says to you ‘I realise you are scared, and that is ok’. To quote the film, “Anything human is mentionable, and anything mentionable is manageable”. Anything mentionable is manageable.

Rebecca Panks

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