Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – movie review


Mary Poppins will always be one of my favourite childhood movies and I know for certain that it will be for generations to come. But what about Saving Mr. Banks?

Saving Mr. Banks follows the infinite spars between P.L. Travers, author of the famous Mary Poppins‘ books and Walt Disney, as they both attempt to pull the rope that is the outcome of the Mary Poppins movie as it is being written in 1961. Saving Mr. Banks also follows P.L. Travers’ childhood as she grows up in Allora, Queensland, Australia with an alcoholic father whom she adores.

When I first saw the film, I was floored by both the sense of sensation within Saving Mr. Banks as well as the fact that critics were skeptical. At first I thought there could be no possible reason for there to be any critical disdain for a film as perfect as this… and then I rewatched it a couple more times and realised why; It may have a very large vibe of Oscar-bait.

Saving Mr. Banks, a story told of one person in two time periods, one in the “present” and one story through flashbacks. How could that ever be perceived as Oscar-bait? Oh wait.

The story is genuinely interesting but no matter how it was told, it was going to end up looking like an Academy magnet and although this is the case, at least the director could have made an attempt to make it look less so.

Saving Mr. Banks does, most of the time, seem very similar to the send-ups of movies that you see in SNL sketches or YouTube videos. The soft lighting, the somehow predictable soundtrack, the audience’s given ability to perfectly time when the story switches from present to flashback, etc.

This film does have a large sense of Oscar-bait surrounding it but unlike many other Oscar-bait films, I would still recommend Saving Mr. Banks.

Critics often have an impulse to dismiss anything even remotely smelling of Oscar-bait (and usually with good reason) but for once, I feel Saving Mr. Banks doesn’t deserve to be so quickly dismissed. Underneath the familiar elements of an Academy contender lies a lot to indulge in.

Saving Mr. Banks has a great story. The flashback portions of the movie do show off some great aspects however those aspects are slightly hidden behind the pre-mentioned award-friendly vibe. The relationship between P.L. Travers and her father is very well written and also very well performed by the actors.

The “present” portions of the movie don’t have nearly as much Oscar-bait vibes surrounding it as the flashback portions, leaving the cast & crew to actually show what they’re presenting, a damn good story.

Something about a story centered on filmmaking and/or the development of films really interests me, whether it is done well or not. So I guess I may be a little biased in saying that the present portions of the story are far more interesting. The flashback portions may be more powerful and may evoke more emotion in the audience but for me, just the mention of movies brings a tear to the eye.

Bringing back the performances, wow. There are quite a few here that must be mentioned and must be recognised as great.

Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney himself and it seems appropriate, Hanks being a distant cousin of the animation emperor, brings the same sense of home and comfort to the movie screen today as Walt brought to the world years ago.

Emma Thompson portrays 1960s P.L. Travers a.k.a. Helen Goff and portrays her brilliantly. Whenever she rejected an idea on screen as part of the story, I felt like she was giving me that rejection as if she were a teacher who was asked a stupid question and that made me feel stupid. A movie character made me feel stupid.

Annie Rose Buckley portrays the younger Helen Goff as she’s living through a terrible childhood and her performance was good for what she was playing. It wasn’t particularly stand-out but there was nothing wrong with it.

And Colin Farrell, one of the most underrated actors of our time, greatly portrays Helen’s father, Travers Robert Goff. There is a lot of great emotion and passion in Farrell’s performance and where some may claim over-acting, I claim great acting.

The film is surrounded by a undying feel of Oscar-bait and predictable story moments but underneath that is a very well written, beautifully shot, brilliantly performed story that is as interesting as it is effortlessly emotional.

What did you think of Saving Mr. Banks? Leave your comment on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.


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