Mary Poppins, the book and the movie, are classics. There is no need to elaborate further on either one because if you are bothering to read a review of Saving Mr Banks, you are already familiar with one or the other……and possibly both.
But this is the story of the book’s author PL Travers (Thompson) and her struggle with Walt Disney (Hanks) to have the movie made just as she wanted. Mrs Travers was not about to have her beloved Mary Poppins turned into a Disney cartoon and Disney was not about to take no for an answer. He had promised his daughters when they were children that he would make them a movie about Mary Poppins and he was not about to break that promise. Disney was also an astute businessman so lets not forget that.
Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff) was from a poor Australian family. Her father Travers Goff (Farrell) was an alcoholic and managed to run the family into abject poverty. But Mrs Travers adored him and the fanciful stories he told her. She was a daddy’s girl through and through and thus his demise into alcoholism must have been especially hard for her to witness.
The movie flows seamlessly from the world of Travers’ childhood in rural Queensland to the reality she had built for herself far away in London, then into the world of Walt Disney and his relentless desire to make his movie.
Travers is a terse, cranky, demanding woman who is caught off-guard by Disney’s endless enthusiasm. She does everything in her power to be difficult and controlling as she goes through the script, literally word for word, and manages to pick it almost to pieces. Disney and his team are affable in the extreme ….. there is a lot riding on this series of meetings.
I absolutely loved this movie. From the very first scene to the very end, I adored everything about it. The acting was divine and the script was poignant and touching without ever becoming overly sentimental. In real life, Travers was a very interesting woman (I suggest you read up on her as there is so much more to her than the Disney-fied portrayal in this movie) obviously with many secrets, some of which are shared in Saving Mr Banks.
This is not a movie for the kiddies, not the young ones anyway. It is not a Mary Poppins prequel or even a movie that would engage younger moviegoers. In fact, at the screening I went to, there were small children there who were bored within 15 minutes. I would suggest you leave the youngsters at home.
This movie is for those of us who may have grown up with Mary Poppins in the DVD cabinet and have even shared it with our own children. It is for anyone who wonders about the person behind the name, the person who would write such a novel (which was much darker than the movie, if you have never read the book). For those of us who wonder about the real person behind any story for that matter.
I urge you to go and see this one…..you will not be disappointed. Promise.
Love Flick xx
Director : John Lee Hancock
Starring : Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Rachel Griffiths, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman
Running Time : 125 minutes
Release Date : 9 January, 2014