Film review: Saving Mr Banks (PG)

Tom Hanks (as Walt Disney) and Emma Thonpson (as PL Travers) in Saving Mr. Banks.
Tom Hanks (as Walt Disney) and Emma Thonpson (as PL Travers) in Saving Mr. Banks.

When we first meet Travers (Thompson), she has fallen on hard times yet refuses to entertain the advances of Disney (Hanks).

“I know what he’s going to do to her. She’ll be cavorting... and twinkling!” seethes the writer.

Yet the filmmaker is persistent, telling Travers that, “20 years ago I made a promise to my daughters that I would make your Mary Poppins fly off the pages of your books.”

Eventually, Travers flies to America to meet Disney and his team including Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and his brother Robert (BJ Novak), whose twee songs fail to curry favour.

“These books do not lend themselves to prancing and chirping,” Travers rebukes.

Despite a touching friendship with her chauffeur Ralph (Paul Giamatti), Travers is unmoved by the re-imagining of her cherished text and eventually she snaps, telling Disney: “Mary Poppins is not for sale. I won’t have her turned into one of your silly cartoons.”

Something has to give and it is Disney who realises that if he is to win over the author, he must confront the ghosts of his own past.

Saving Mr Banks is an embarrassment of riches from the stunning lead performances to John Lee Hancock’s assured direction and Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s script, which intercut events in 1960s California with vignettes from Travers’s turbulent childhood in 1906 Australia.


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