‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ gives Fred Rogers his due

Tom Hanks in the movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood."
(Lacey Terrell/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

One of last year’s most beautifully directed movies, fittingly enough, was “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Marielle Heller’s film about a man in deep emotional pain and his life-changing encounter with a new friend. That friend, of course, was Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks, an Oscar nominee for his lovably sly performance), but the movie — freely adapted by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster from Tom Junod’s magazine profile of Rogers — honored and examined Rogers’ estimable legacy in ways that a more conventional Hollywood biopic couldn’t have managed.

What Heller pulled off was something stranger and trickier: a genuine communion with the spirit of grace, patience and kindness that made Rogers such a counterintuitive force for good on American airwaves. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is now available for rental or purchase, and a good thing too; no less than Mister Rogers himself, it deserves to light up your living room.