Thursday, 20 February 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (5 Stars)

Today was my last chance to see "Saving Mr. Banks" in the cinema. I'm glad I took the opportunity while I still had it. Evidently others thought the same as me, because the cinema was packed. This will be a short review, but I have to give away spoilers to explain what makes the film so wonderful.

The film tells the true story of the making of "Mary Poppins", one of Disney's most successful films, based on a children's book with the same name. In 1938 Walt Disney first approached the author, Pamela Travers, for the rights to make the film, but she turned him down. Over the next 20 years he regularly wrote to her, but she always refused. In 1961 she finally went to Los Angeles to meet him. She said she would only sign the contract if Walt agreed to her conditions, for instance that it shouldn't be a musical and there should be no animation included. Walt was unable to win her over until he realised that the book contained biographical elements. She was writing about her father who she had been unable to save as a child.

I don't know who to praise most when it comes to the actors. Tom Hanks is a good actor, but he's never impressed me as much as in this film, playing Walt Disney. Emma Thompson manages to make Pamela Travers look like a grumpy old lady, while letting her hidden pain seep through as understated hints. Colin Farrell is perfect as Pamela's loving father, tainted by his alcohol addiction. Paul Giamatti is usually an unassuming background character that we hardly notice in his films, but in his relatively small role as Pamela's chauffeur Ralph in Los Angeles his acting ability dazzles. This is a very beautiful film. It's all about relationships: Pamela's relationship with her father, with Walt Disney, with Ralph.

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