Posted by: greercn | November 25, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

A disturbing trend in biopics is to set out the flaws of the creators and then give complex psychological reasons for these, buried in their childhoods.

The writer of the Mary Poppins books now gets this treatment.

As the movie “Saving Mr Banks” is rated PG, we skip over author P.L. Travers possible bisexuality, acting career and adoption of one twin (but not the other) and go straight to her early Australian childhood. Then, we are encouraged to blame her alcoholic dad for all that fuels her irascible nature in adulthood.

Early 20th century sunshine glows very prettily while the story proffers darkness. No spoilers here but daddy is played by the unbelievably charismatic Colin Farrell, fizzing with Irish charm and stereotypical blarney.

Emma Thompson plays the adult PL, while Tom Hanks plays an especially adorable Walt Disney, who wants to make Mary Poppins into a movie. Neither Walt nor PL remembered this as the best time of their lives.

Annie Buckley’s performance as the young PL is really very good and Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford and Rachel Griffiths are all superb in their roles. John Lee Hancock brings the same sure directorial touch he did to “The Blind Side”.

Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak sparkle as the Sherman brothers who wrote those memorable songs.

The very full special screening for members of Stratford East Picturehouse was full of thoughtful enjoyment. Younger children seemed a little disturbed by what the pre-credit warning described as “scenes of an upsetting nature”.

Both Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are very believable and those who love the books and the Disney movie will have much to enjoy. It makes me want to read the books again and dig out that Disney film.

You may get less out of this if you are unfamiliar with Mary Poppins. See it for the terrific story, which may annoy those (like me) who get a little fed up with childhoods being seen as responsible for difficulties, but not for creative genius. Heck, maybe that’s just me.

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