Monday, July 20, 2015

Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks,
Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti

"Behind the Beloved Book is 
A Story Beyond Words"

This film gives us the story of how Walt Disney struggled to secure the movie rights to "Mary Poppins". It took him almost 20 years to convince author P.L Travers (Emma Thompson) to accept his offer. 

"Saving Mr. Banks" focuses on the two weeks in 1961 that P.L Travers is in Los Angeles as a consultant on the set of the film. She was very concerned that her beloved nanny might be defiled by the trappings of Hollywood especially when she found out her book would be turned into a musical. As the production team do their best to impress the author with their vivid storyboards and cheerful songs composed by the renowned Sherman brothers, P.L Travers is digging in her heels and remains quite stubborn, and very difficult to work with.

Aside from the production scenes, the film is interspersed with flashbacks of her very miserable childhood, growing up in a small town in Australia. She idolized father who worked at a local bank. He was also a troubled heavy drinker, prone to depression. Despite being dirt poor, her father would regale his daughters with wild tales born from his vivid imagination. She drew inspiration from the events in her life and this heavily reflected in her books.

The narrative took on a very sentimental tone when it focused on the scenes from her very tough childhood, sometimes way too melancholic for my taste. Thankfully there was a good balance with scenes shot in the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney gave a well defined performance. He was affable and quite the gentleman just like I imagined the real Disney would be. But he was also quite astute as a businessman and this clearly contributed to the success of the franchise. 

There is no doubt that Emma Thompson dominates this film - as the nonsense Brit with poor social skills coupled with her sarcastic wisdom and deadpan humor, she gave a heartfelt, highly emotional portrayal of the author. Another fascinating work from Ms Thompson, as usual!

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