American children's TV star Mister Rogers is friendly. Really friendly. Dressed in a red pullover and pleated khakis he sings soppy songs, always listens with interest and thinks talking to terminal kids is more important than his work. It confuses investigative journalist Lloyd Vogel. "I just don't know whether he's sincere," he says to his editor.
Biographical films generally unmask their subjects, not so A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is Vogel's facade that falls – the cynical hack's meetings with Mister Rogers teach him to deal with his carefully suppressed emotions. Mawkish? Not at all, director Marielle Heller's enchanting film full of clever visuals balances precariously on the edge. This is also down to Tom Hanks, nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, who ensures Rogers never becomes a saint. A cinematic embrace even the most hardened cynic would welcome. Closing Film IFFR 2020.