Synopsis: Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.
Saving Mr. Banks is based on the actual struggle between Mary Poppins Creator P.L. Travers and Walt Disney when trying to adapt her character to film. The negotiations went on for close to twenty years and this film sheds light on the details of Travers’ hesitancy and the emotional struggle of letting go.
While this film may be emotionally captivating, some of the key moments have been embellished to most likely to capture the hearts of audiences. Going into this film I would suggest viewing it without any preconceived notions gained from fact checking. This film is entirely character development driven and you will enjoy this film to its fullest if you can view this story as a reimagining rather than a fact driven movie.
With that said, this is a beautiful story filled with a slew of lovable characters. Emma Thompson is the embodiment of P.L. Travers capturing her passion for her work, her strong-willed independence, and her adamant wit. Her rude yet humorous conflict with most anyone she comes into contact with creates a semi antihero persona that makes you want to root for her to find peace and let someone inside her secluded bubble. Tom Hanks, who should be the antagonist, is instead Travers’ jovial opposition, playing a more lovable version of Walt Disney which was most likely pushed by the Disney studio executives to honor his memory. While Hanks fits into the given role just as well as any other character he plays, his abilities are harnessed by the lack of depth and dialogue given to this vision of Walt Disney. The Walt Disney we see on screen is almost too good to be true, much like a Santa Clause figure. There are a few idiosyncrasies revealed about him but nothing that provides the honesty or depth to connect us with the character like we do with Travers.
The plot surrounds the story of P.L. Travers that starts as a mystery that is systematically deconstructed as the film progresses. Colin Farrell takes the role of chipping away at the mysteries playing her troubled yet charismatic father, Travers Goff. Intermittent flashbacks throughout the film depict Travers’ childhood and her relationship with her father. Because of this troubled relationship and the impact of this relationship, I would say that Colin Farrell’s role supersedes Hanks’ role through his dedication and acting as the foundation for P.L. Travers’ characteristics and mysterious origins. While I’ll reiterate that Emma Thompson shines as the star, Colin Farrell earns a bit of the spotlight through his animated and heartfelt performance that is welcomed added support for Thompson.
Saving Mr. Banks is a film about inner redemption. Regardless of this film being strongly or loosely based on facts, it does not diminish the film’s genuineness or honesty. This film is incredibly moving and that credit goes to Emma Thompson who may have given the performance of her life. For fans of Mary Poppins or those who’ve never seen it, you can expect an emotional fulfilling journey on all levels.
Saving Mr. Banks – 8 out of 10
A genuinely honest, inspirational film…