Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.
Director Marielle Heller gives yet another Oscar-worthy story for us to not only enjoy, but to be uplifted by. This is not a rehashing of Fred Rogers life. The documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” beautifully told that story already. “Neighborhood” isn’t Fred’s story at all; it’s Lloyd Vogel’s, the hard-nosed journalist assigned to interview the only person who would agree to talk with him, Fred Rogers. To say this hits all the right notes would be an understatement. This is an orchestral symphony of right notes as Vogel deals with the bitter elements that have long effected him. Heller uses ingenious creative techniques that would have made Rogers proud. Both Hanks and Rhys give outstanding performances, but Hanks stands out as he becomes Rogers, embodies him, channels his very spirit. It will affect you and we all need a dose of positivity in our lives, inspiring us all to be kinder more gentle people.
Modestly executed, the film’s simple and powerful message is strongly delivered and timely. Hanks gives one of the best performances of his career as he disappears into Rogers, giving a heartfelt, sincere turn that buoys the film. There’s a quiet quality to the movie that allows for introspection, particularly during a moving scene in which Rogers asks Vogel to stop and think about all of the people who have loved him into existence. We find ourselves doing the same and are better for it in the end. Not too many movies can make such a claim.