Review: Saving Mr. Banks – Sweet, Even Without A Spoonful Of Sugar
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson charm and delight in equal measure in a story behind a classic story
Saving Mr. Banks is an incredibly uplifting yet deeply emotional film for all to engage with, as it gives a deeper understanding of the process of Walt Disney attempting to acquire the rights of Mary Poppins. The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock constructs a powerful story by allowing the characters to have room to breathe, so that we can see the true sense of why P.L. Travis had such a reluctance to allow Walt Disney to make a film about Mary Poppins.
The most refreshing approach that Hancock had to this story, whilst we do deal with the childhood of P.L. Travis, is that the film is primarily set over the course of a few weeks in 1961. This allows a more concise and focused film to be made and for the audience to connect with. The flashbacks of the life of the Mary Poppins author allow us to flesh out the reason why she had such a resistance against the charm of Walt Disney.
The film sees P.L. Travis being sent out by her agent to Los Angeles for two weeks to work out a deal for the film rights of Mary Poppins, but instantly Travis has made up her mind that it will not work out and that she’ll instead protect the character she has created. This is where the humour comes from as we see how blunt, sharp and completely insensitive she is towards others. Saving Mr. Banks brilliantly mixes drama and comedy together. The trailer highlights some of the most humorous moments, but at the end of it all it is about how she battles with her inner demons. She allows herself to move on and live in the present instead of being oppressed by the past of her childhood in Australia.
This film is carried by two incredible two-time Academy Award winning actors who have earned the utmost respect in Hollywood and by fans. For over the course of their careers we see the variety of roles and the depth they bring to each character. While being supported by Tom Hanks as the charming Walt Disney, Emma Thompson takes the audience by the hand and owns this film as stubborn author P.L. Travis. The on-screen chemistry between the two is something that cannot be constructed; I guess the magic of Disney works after all.
The beautiful thing about Saving Mr. Banks is the whole style and feel of the film. Set primarily in the 1960’s, it has that classic look and a very refined quality to the overall production of the film. It is packed with heart and strong characters, including the supporting cast, who deliver comical value. We see Shwartzman and Novac as the Sherman brothers (composers) creating the iconic tunes that we can easily recognise in an instant. Giamatti, the charming chauffeur for P.L. Travis, also helps sweeten up the author, but a powerful performance comes from Colin Farrell as the father of the troubled author.
It helps to have seen the 1964 classic musical Mary Poppins, for Saving Mr. Banks makes you fall in love with it all over again. It makes you emotional at the thought that it could have possibly been prevented from ever being made. You also see how Disney fought with such determination to translate the children’s book into a musical in true Disney fashion. Its appeal and charm is something that cannot be ignored, and this is a film for all to see.
Saving Mr. Banks is currently screening at cinemas across the region.