Film Review: Saving Mr Banks

 Don’t judge a book by its cover or a mouse by its ears! 

If I’m honest, I was hooked on the idea behind Saving Mr Banks the moment I first saw it’s trailer. The opening bars to Chim Chim Cher-ee overlaying the “behind the scenes” story just grabbed me, just said this is going to be good, this is going to be one to watch.

I don’t think there is anybody in the western world to whom Mary Poppins doesn’t hold an affection, whether we saw it on TV at Christmas or in the cinema as a small child, we’ve all grown up know that it’s going a bit too far to say dociousaliexpilisticfragicalirupes and so Saving Mr Banks, and it’s portrayal of the relationship between P.L. Travers and Walt Disney, should in theory, be the ideal opportunity to transport grown adults back to their childhood.

Unfortunately, as a movie it just left me flat. I know I am going to be in a minority with my views on it but I just felt that as a film it lacked depth; it lacked character. Emma Thompson somehow seems to miss the mark and comes across as softer than you feel she should be. From what I’ve read and heard, Mrs Travers in real life, had a real caustic whip to her and yet Thompson seems to take caustic, neutralise it and then just reinvent it as almost, dare I say it? Pompous.

There is a real sense as well with the character development in the film that the supporting cast come across as superficial and from a story and plot point of view undeveloped. They are there purely “because they have to be”. The only character I felt had any sense of humility, heart and charm was Paul Giamatti’s chauffeur Ralf. For me, his relationship with Thompson’s Travers and the emotions their journey and resultant conversations conjure up inside you are annoyingly the only ray of sunshine in a movie that lacks.

It also appears to be disjointed. Timelines become hard to follow, plot points get scratched across in favour of comedic moments and you end up really wondering quite where this film is trying to position itself. It obviously trying to be serious, and an initial worry I had that it would be “disneyfied” turned out to be unfounded, but I have come out the cinema remembering little points, simply enjoying fleeting moments in time and actually with more questions than answers about the plot as a whole. I can’t help but feel that in 6 months time I won’t remember it, and sadly, once again ensuring my position in the minority, I cannot see it troubling the little gold statues next February.

I feel like I am potentially being too hard on it, asking too much; that I may have expectations from my memory of the beloved Mary that place the Movie I wanted beyond reach. After all, Saving Mr Banks may never have been intended to be deeper, warmer, or more charismatic that what I met in Screen 3 at 14.15pm, but I just feel when your lasting memory is how P.L. Travers rode a carousel at Disneyland rather than any single major plot point, your relationship with a film isn’t destined to be a long one.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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