Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Film Review

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Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are perfectly cast in Disney’s behind-the-scenes film of their very own 60s classic.

Throughout the film the narrative jumps between two particular periods of P.L. Travers’ (Emma Thompson) life, from her youth spent in sun soaked Australia with her father (Colin Farrell) and the rest of her family, to being pestered by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) over the rights of her universally loved series of books, Mary Poppins.

The film depicts the somewhat poignant journey of P.L Travers, having never really overcome the death of her father she pours her repressed emotions into the story of Mary Poppins. Her curt and typically English disposition contrasted with Disney’s open-armed American greetings create an amiable whimsy for the most part of the film. The friction between her and working collaborators, with charming performances by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak, also add to the comical tone of the film.

The fulcrum of the movie lies within her hesitance to sign over the rights of her precious books, so demonstrative of her youth and personal to her – ‘The Banks are like family to me.’ And, indeed, Hanks puts in another stellar performance as the helpless Walt Disney who endeavours to both appease and battle Travers over micro-elements in the film, for example, not having the colour red in the film or it not being a musical.

As we grow to understand more and more of her inner turmoil we reach the point of an emotionally intimate meeting between Disney and Travers in her homely London house. The dialogue excellently portrays that Disney finally identifies what is pestering Travers and he ultimately understands that Mary Poppins wasn’t sent to save the neglected children but to save Mr.Banks. One of the numerous touching moments of the film, no doubt, along with the improvised sing-along to well known Poppins classics.

A point worth debating would be Emma Thompson’s lack of an Oscar nomination but the film will nonetheless be represented at the Academy Awards thanks to the excellent score of Thomas Newman. After missing out on an incredible 12 Oscars, Newman could finally nab the prize as his music is uniquely Disney, nuances of the airy ‘Finding Nemo’ score can be heard which serve to amplify the ‘Disneyness’ of the whole film.

An enjoyable film that testifies Hanks’ unrelenting ability to embody any accent, Newman’s unparalleled musicianship and the never-ending legacy that is Disney.

7.5/10

Dan Iacono

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