In what I have said before has been a very good year for movies with such amazing films as Finding Neverland, Ray, Million Dollar Baby and so on. Along comes an absolute remarkable find...and a television movie nonetheless. Warm Springs is quite possibly one of, if not THE, best movie I have ever seen, I can't recommend this enough. I can't promise that everyone will feel the same about it but I can guarantee you can't not like it and not feel passionate about it.
Warm Springs is the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt following his unsuccessful bid for vice president. A year following that bid at 39 years old he is struck down with infantile paralysis, better known as Polio. The powerful man is devastated by the crippling disease. His life as he knew it is over. He drinks his way out of public life and hides himself away, ashamed by the disease. After trying many different healing methods and medicines he is informed of a place in the backwoods of Georgia called "Warm Springs" a mineralized pool resort where a crippled boy found he was able to walk in the waters because of the high mineral concentration. Desperate to try anything Roosevelt goes to the location. He is shocked by the state of the resort which is run down, and poorly operated. Out of desperation he stays out of his element in order to try the water. After several treatments in the water he suddenly finds himself revitalized and able to step in the water. He falls in love with the run down Warm Springs and agrees to an interview with a local newspaper. Despite the reporters attempt to make the interview about Roosevelt, Roosevelt talks about Warm Springs to no end. Next thing he knows Polio victims from all over are risking everything to come to Warm Springs. They can't pay, most of them are poor, and the "healthy" guests are threatening to check out fearing they will catch the disease. The waters are miraculous and Roosevelt finds a whole new public and a whole new reason to live in his fellow sufferers. His wife meanwhile keeps the Roosevelt name in the public eye by becoming spokeswoman to different organizations and gearing Roosevelt up for his return to politics which would ultimately lead to one of the greatest Presidencies in history.
Three things make this such an incredibly film that it should walk away with any and all awards it is eligible for. First, the acting, the casting of this film was so brilliantly done. They are all just phenomenal. The writing, Margaret Nagle, is obviously a beautifully well spoken writer. And finally the directing, Joseph Sargent who is absolutely no stranger to directing made the most passionate film, and for Television nonetheless, I have ever seen. Kenneth Branagh, who is always an intense actor, plays Roosevelt with such feverish passion from his highest highs to his lowest lows. Granted as everyone keeps pointing out he didn't look a lot like him and his English accent was a little misplaced but his performance was so moving and so incredibly it's easily overlooked. Kathy Bates as the determined, and fevered supporter of Roosevelt's Warm Springs, is a wonderful if not slightly underused addition to the cast. She is always a brilliant actress. A real treat was Cynthia Nixon who is really only known as Miranda from Sex and The City (a show which I personally can't stand.) Cynthia Nixon instead puts across such an incredibly performance as the socially withdrawn, but dedicated and loving wife Eleanor Roosevelt, bravo to her. The rest of the supporting cast is just unbelievable. No one turns in a less than remarkable performance. Tim Nelson stands out in my mind as manager of Warm Springs and someone who becomes very close to Roosevelt, Tom Loyless. For the first time in many, many years I literally found myself in tears during a film. All in all, this movie is an absolute must see for anyone interested in political history, or just for a beautifully directed film. 10/10