TIFF Audiences Fall for Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’: ‘Cinematic Therapy’

Director Marielle Heller's Mr. Rogers film has sent Toronto audiences swooning. Here are the first reactions.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, indeed, for Toronto International Film Festival audiences who caught the world premiere of director Marielle Heller’s new film starring Tom Hanks as the beloved Mister Rogers.

Written by “Transparent” scribes Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” centers on the real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Hanks) and journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). The cynical writer is forced to take an assignment from Esquire to write a profile on Rogers, but the job turns out to be a surprising one as Rogers’ perspective on life — sunnily documented in Morgan Neville’s 2018 doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — begins to change Vogel. The supporting cast includes Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Enrico Colantoni, Maryann Plunkett, and Tammy Blanchard.

From Eric Kohn’s IndieWire review: “Director Marielle Heller… excels at pulling heartstrings from sturdy foundations, injecting smart and insightful details into material that could easily default to sentimentality. While her first big studio effort lacks the edginess of ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ and ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl,’ Heller works backward by digging into the gooey material and mining for substance in surprising places.”

Below, IndieWire has rounded up first reactions following its bow at TIFF. Sony Pictures will release the film on November 22.

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