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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

June 12, 2018 GMT

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a depressingly good documentary about a singularly empathetic television personality. Fred Rogers (1928-2003) knew what he was up against in a culture, and an economy, built on marketable aggression. Against long odds he prevailed. Now he belongs to another time. Can his spirit of gentle reassurance possibly be revived, in any form? Premiering in 1968, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” offered a reliable security blanket to millions of young viewers. The ordained Presbyterian minister, husband and father seemed so unapologetically sincere, everyone assumed he must be hiding something. Without undue fawning, Neville’s moving portrait does a lovely job of presenting Rogers as two people, the public figure and the private one, sharing the same closet full of zip-up sweaters. 3 1/2 stars. 1:34. -- M.P.