Biographical films are a hit or miss at my house. However, from the first time seeing trailers for Saving Mr. Banks, it was one I thought looked like a “must-see.”
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Promising his daughters a picture adaptation of their favorite childhood novel is a 20 year journey. For Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and turning the P.L Travers book Mary Poppins into a Disney film is no small feat. His plans to get the rights to the Mary Poppins book is about to happen when they arrange a meeting between the author’s agent and Disney himself, all with a goal for her to be a part of the creative process. Only trouble is, Walt is about to find out that he is not going to easily obtain film rights.
Mrs. Pamela Travers (Emma Thompson) refuses to settle for anything less than her vision of the story which means no animation (who ever heard of animated penguins?); no songs (Mary isn’t some twinkling character); and absolutely none of the color red is to be used in the film! As she works on the film with the Sherman brothers, visions of the past replay in her mind. This leads Mrs. Travers to recall the days when the father (Colin Farrell) of her story tries to give his family a fresh start, only for there to be fatal results.
There’s probably very few childhood memories that don’t include Mary Poppins. It’s one of those movies most of us lump into the “classics” even if it’s not a favorite. It’s a film I’ve seen though not one I watch dozens of times; although I do always forget that Julie Andrews stars as its titular character (seriously, who remembers her as anyone but Maria VonTrapp?). Reading through trivia comments, it sounds as if this film isn’t historically accurate which may annoy some who have a gripe about accuracy. Nonetheless as with everything, I suspect there is some truth here even if only in glimmers of what is here and certainly there are poignant moments that will touch us.
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Every frame that introduces a new character is likely to have you recognizing familiar faces. This is true not just in its two veteran stars (Hanks and Thompson), but there is also Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre, The Lone Ranger); Paul Giamatti (whose character is a nice addition); Rachel Griffith;, Kathy Baker; and the adorable newbie Annie Rose Buckley. Hanks (who happens to be a not-so-favorite actor) brings fun and charisma to Disney; Thompson a heartbreaking portrait of P.L. Travers; and the young Annie plays Helen flawlessly in a role that’s a mix of innocence and old soul. Particularly heart-wrenching is a scene between her and her mother in a dramatic moment of clarification. Really everyone deserves recognition. Also impressive is the atmosphere of the film, this includes the costuming, sets and props. Those behind the camera put together a top-notch film that shouldn’t have gone unnoticed.
If it were not for a running time that overstays its welcome, this film would be a perfect example of a bio film. In fact I may even overlook the overlong time because really, Saving Mr. Banks is beautiful. Starting out with stunning camera work, the flashbacks work really well in the first 10-15 minutes before they transition awkwardly or out-of-place in spots then there are others that seamlessly blend from present to past. The comedy is brilliant as is the imagination of the script which offsets the bittersweet ending. When all is said and done, cue the credits, this film is memorable. It’s something I’ll enjoy revisiting and is a unique look at the creation of a story rather than the result of it.
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You can find Saving Mr. Banks digitally on Amazon Video
Content: one character indulges in alcohol more than is healthy for his well-being and that of his family [he often embarrasses his family and is a disgrace to his occupation]. One scene depicts an attempted suicide, the person wades into the water with the intention of drowning only to be stopped by a child. There are scenes of a man coughing up blood. Aside from that, the film is of more interest to older audiences with a PG13 rating.