125 Min | Biography – Comedy – Drama | November 2013
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Annie Rose Buckley
Saving Mr. Banks Review: Despite watching the trailer and knowing the broad story, Saving Mr. Banks still managed to surprise. It’s a beautiful, tender film that manages to be sad without being mawkish, funny without detracting from the emotion and with far greater depth than expected. Unfolding the story of Walt Disney’s attempt to persuade P.L. Travers to sell him the rights to her beloved Mary Poppins, Saving Mr. Banks is a delightful film that is deceptively emotional and flows smoothly enough to be entirely engaging.
Travers (Emma Thompson) thwarts Disney’s (Tom Hanks) attempts to secure the rights for twenty years until a flatlining bank balance and a mildly panicking agent persuade her to at least consider Disney’s proposition or lose her home with certainty. Whisking her to Hollywood and bombarding her with all things Disney, the master of the House of Mouse spares no expense or effort to woo Mrs Travers and persuade her to allow him to keep his promise to his daughters to film the books they loved so much. Unsurprisingly, Hanks is matched every single step of the way by Thompson. There is a magical thawing in her Travers in the course of Saving Mr. Banks where she pokes her head out of her hard, crispy chrysalis and threatens to become a warm(ish), witty woman. Early on in the film, it is difficult to like Travers as her demands become more extreme, her retorts more cutting and her demeanour downright unpleasant, but Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s screenplay weaves the story of the film rights with the tale of Travers’ troubled childhood to give reason for her crustiness and context to her literary creation. It is this aspect of Saving Mr. Banks that surprises most and completes the film.
Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) approaches each side of his female protagonist’s life very differently and her buried history is shot in muted, dusty colours with a jagged Western romanticism that tempers the bleak happenings that shaped the girl into the woman. As with Hanks and Thompson, the chemistry between Farrell and Annie Rose Buckley (playing Ginty, the young Travers) is effortlessly beautiful. The casting is just one of the joys of Saving Mr. Banks, with Paul Giamatti chief amongst the supporting actors as Travers’ driver, Ralph, a doleful puppy in human form that responds to every brush-off and verbal slap with another smile and encouraging word. Saving Mr. Banks is an unqualified success. It is a joy to watch and leaves one hoping that Mary Poppins earns yet another screening in this year’s Christmas TV schedule.
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