Marcey: Hello readers and welcome to our conversational review of Saving Mr Banks starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks.
Bea: With a special secondary review of “Stoker” starring Mia I’m Sorry I Can’t Spell Her Name At The Top Of My Head, Nicole Kidman and Ozymidas, I mean Matthew Goode.
Marcey: Indeed, we are covering two films this week and both are pretty darn fine. But first of course, to the one that is a little bit less dark. Saving Mr. Banks is based on the true story of P.L. Travers and what she went through with Disney in order to make her beloved Mary Poppins into a feature film.
Bea: And let’s just say, like any other passionate artist, Travers was absolutely protective of her creation. Off the bat, I really do believe this movie was respectful to both sides of the argument during the creation of this well-loved Disney classic. Disney well and truly believed in the project (with some nip and tuck) but Travers is not painted as a horsebeast. I actually felt a great deal for Thompson as Travers, and not just because she is a fellow Queenslander. When you put heart and soul into a creation, you have an almost parental bond to it.
Marcey: Absolutely, in a way this can be seen as a bit of apology to Travers from Disney. The film feels like an honest portrayal of the woman, she is strong and very passionate about her work. But as we see through flashbacks, she created Mary Poppins based on her Aunt and Mr. Banks was based on her father (played by Colin Farrell). She loved her father dearly, however he was an alcoholic, and her childhood was anything but sweet unfortunately. In a way she kind of wrote the story to perhaps let these people live on in a way through the fictional story.
Bea: Writing that story was a catharsis for her, so it was understandable about how defiant she was to Uncle Walt during that whole creative process. Given the limited value of women back in those days, you’ve got to admire her strength to stick to her principles. Considering how monumentally complicated the entire affair was, you gotta give it to the film makers by portraying both characters fairly without making Travers come off as the shrew and Walt as the ‘hero’.
And when I say characters, I mean the people, I just wanted to clarify.
Marcey: You really feel for Travers in this film, and those flashbacks really help develop her character and her as a person. Walt comes off as natural as you’d expect, and they even added some truths, such as his smoking into it. Tom Hanks was passionate about this role, that came through in his performance. Even though you were aware it was Tom Hanks the entire time. I felt Emma disappeared more into her performance, but both were great and very respectful.
Bea: In a way, it was like watching something LIKE Mary Poppins in terms of how the actors themselves approached the roles. You knew Emma and Tom when you saw them like when you saw Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, but they never once did the old wink-wink-nudge-nudge to you as the actors saying “Hey, I’m playing Walt Disney!” or “What up, I’m the creator of Mary Poppins!”
Marcey: No it wasn’t like that, I think Walk was just that larger than life character and Tom knew that. But with someone so known it wouldn’t have been easy for him to shed his image, not in the way he did with Captain Phillips.
The story here, I think works very well in telling the story of Travers and Walt but also of showing the flashbacks, and they do get thrown in at just the right times. So you can really feel what she is feeling as her adventure with Disney continues.
Bea: If anything can be said with finality, you got to see both sides of an argument that had long been in Disney’s favour. To see where Travers was coming from is such an important aspect because this is all part of cinematic history. “Mary Poppins” may not have had the best genesis as a movie, but you can’t argue against the results, and both of these people were a part of it.
Marcey: The film never has the intention of insulting anyone, so it remains as neutral as possible, which is as respectful as it could be. However some of the films best moments, are just lovely character moments. Like Travers in the grass and Ralph joins her, it’s just a sweet moment.
Bea: Because it does resemble those moments in our own lives when we get that little spark of enchantment.
Marcey: Exactly, and funny this film does feel very Disney-ish but it never goes full insane Disney and it is all the better for that.
Bea: Plus, I adored the connection between both actors, even as adversaries, Thompson’s Travers still maintained her dignity.
Marcey: They had the right chemistry for the roles, and it was perfectly cast and handled.
Bea: They need to work together more. Perhaps not as much as Russell and Ridley, but still :p
Marcey: They really do need to work together again, its a great pair.
Now we need to talk about one of the best aspects of the film. Colin Farrell as the father in the flashbacks, WOW was he ever good!
Bea: I’ve always found Farrell to be a talented actor. While his niche seems to be more in the realms of character acting, that shouldn’t be a dirty word because he equips himself very admirably here.
Marcey: He tackles a character with an addiction, and he himself suffered as well, so this role must have been challenging for him, getting into that mindset.
Bea: That’s part and parcel of being a gifted actor and he almost makes it look easy in terms of how he was just able to get into that role. How long he had to prepare is irrelevant, all we need to see is how much initiative he took as an actor. Just like Thompson and Hanks, he is highly competent.
He has ALMOST atoned for “Alexander”.
Marcey: Good thing I ignored that film, because Farrell remains one of my favourite working actors and he made me very proud with his turn here. One of the most difficult scenes to watch, was when he was very drunk (perhaps for courage) and he needed to deliver a speech. It was hard to keep watching but I couldn’t look away.
Bea: Somewhat reminds you of Sheen from “Apocalypse Now”, doesn’t it? Though perhaps I don’t think he was AS wrecked as Sheen was. But who knows!
Marcey: Mentally perhaps because he had to go to a very dark place.
Bea: Actors man.
Marcey: Let us discuss the ending, spoilers obviously. In real life at the premiere P.L. Travers cried at the conclusion of the film, she was not happy and felt Mary Poppins was ruined and she did not want Disney or the Sherman brothers involved in it again. In the film, it does show her crying during the film but it is not for that reason. This has not pleased some fans, but I think it is all in what you take away from it. And it is something I have had to think about.
Bea: Yeah. Movies tend to take liberties all the time with events that occurred in reality. I feel the movie did that so you got some sort of satisfactory closure about how much tension ran between Travers and Disney. Perhaps the film makers were a little too afraid to show the harsh reality of it because it would make Travers come off as ungrateful.
Considering how much time the movie spent building up Traver’s justification, they didn’t want to show that she had gained absolutely nothing positive from the experience.
Marcey: It felt more like they had gained some closure towards to the death of her father, with the way they had some scenery of him in there.
Bea: I wasn’t terribly offended by it personally, but I can understand why Travers afficianados would be, not to mention sticklers for history.
Marcey: They handled it the best they could, overall this is a very satisfying film and quite entertaining. It has superb performances and it is a very easy watch. Rating from me is 4 out of 5.
Bea: Indeed. By the way, special mention must go to the actors who played the Sherman brothers, aka, the soundtrack to our early childhoods: Jason Schwartzman and B.J Novak. I thoroughly enjoyed their relationship and their integral roles in the movie.
Marcey: Both did a great job, whats you’re rating?
Bea: I’m with you: 4/5, quite easily. I only deduct a point because of the fact the movie chose not to abide by the history of the troubled production, despite it being a downer, given the nature of the film, it being in a way a biography of Mary Poppins, it would have warranted it’s appearance.