Director: John Lee Hancock.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Ruth Wilson, Colin Farrell, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, Paul Giamatti.
Running Time: 125 minutes.
Synopsis: Author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.
Hard as it may be to imagine, SAVING MR. BANKS is a film about Disney, by Disney that is balanced. Telling the true story of how MARY POPPINS found its way to the big screen, it is handled with sensitivity by director John Lee Hancock and performed impeccably by all involved.
Australia, 1906. P.L. Travers is in the midst of moving with her family to a secluded ranch house away from everything and everyone. Along with her father (Colin Farrell), mother (Ruth Wilson) and siblings she troupes to the railway station and hikes to their new home. Following their arrival we are transported to London, 1961, and the story of Walt Disney’s desire to adapt the now Mrs. Travers’ novel about a magical nanny is in full swing.
SAVING MR. BANKS is a rarity in that the developments in flashback add character and emotional depth to those later in life. The young Pamela Travers is a loving daddy’s girl, a million miles from the cantankerous lady withholding her story from Uncle Walt. Both are portrayed with heart and incredible craft by Annie Buckley and Emma Thompson – the former a revelation in a challenging, changing part. Opposite Buckley is a consistently dour Ruth Wilson and an utterly mesmerising Colin Farrell. The mere thought he won’t be nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category at the Oscars is preposterous.
As we move into the ’60s, Tom Hanks illuminates the screen along with Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak and Bradley Whitford as the foursome try to procure the film rights to Mrs. Travers’ increasingly personal story. But the real triumph is the work done in the editing suite. Mark Livolsi deserves all the credit he can be heaped with as he skillfully weaves us back and forth, seamlessly taking us backwards and forwards through time.
SAVING MR. BANKS is a wonderful piece of cinema that is equally funny and tear-inducing. The cast and crew have done justice to a story that could easily have been given the ‘Disney treatment’ and hung Mrs. Travers out to dry. Thankfully for us all, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s supercali- Nah, we won’t go there.