#REVIEW: “SAVING MR. BANKS”
Making a Film about the Story behind one of the most beloved Films of all time, Mary Poppins, certainly is a daunting task. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) however, manages beautifully to recount the tale of how iconic Animation Mogul Walt Disney fought to win-over an unwaveringly wary Author P.L. Travers, adapting to the Big Screen her treasured Story. We learn in Saving Mr. Banks the deeply-personal sentiments behind Travers’ inability to just let-go and share her Story with the rest of the World to enjoy as a Movie. The Film takes us along the emotional Roller Coaster ride between Disney and distrusting Travers, detailing the friendship(s) formed in the process of creating 1964’s Oscar-winning Mary Poppins.
Not enough praise can be delivered to Emma Thompson who gives us an impassioned portrayal of an emotionally-tormented Travers, a Woman at war with herself. She has yet to reconcile her past, particularly her relationship with beloved Father Travers Robert Goff, a kind-hearted but fiery Man, played to perfection by Colin Farrell. Battling his own demons also, he forever leaves an imprint on his Daughter’s conscience.
The great Disney himself however certainly is not to be outshone as Hanks is driven to win and one scene particularly late in the Film with Thompson is remarkable, giving us a deeply-intimate look into the Disney‘s little known personal struggles in his rise to the top. Above this, Giamatti as Travers‘ endearing Driver Ralph, reaches a truly vulnerable place with great constraint, winning us over the very moment he appears on-screen. Jason Schwartzman also transforms fully into Richard Sherman, one-half of the Brother Duo of Composer/Lyricists responsible for the amazing Music of Mary Poppins, which would go onto win the hearts of generations around the World.
Saving Mr. Banks possesses that rare essence of timelessness, which while unable to eclipse the subject matter on which it is based, it stands on its own a Story deserving of being told. Other than the occasional lag in pace, ambitiously telling two Stories simultaneously, there is little not to love here. Like the cup of tea from which Travers sips, Saving Mr. Banks is filled with tear-inducing warmth, without ever suffering from too much sweetness. I haven’t cried this much at the Movies since 2011’s sprinkler-starting War Horse.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada releases Saving Mr. Banks on Friday, December 20, 2013.