That is not a word! – Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Saving Mr. Banks – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Director: John Lee Hancock
Writers: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Stars: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell

Mary Poppins is one of those films that most people love, but who, like me, had no idea where the story came from or that it was originally a book. The author, Mrs P.L. Travers was a fascinating woman as we discover in this film. Emma Thompson really carries this film. Her diversity and skill in being able to portray anyone at any time (I recently re-watched some of the Harry Potter films and she is unrecognisable as Prof. Trelawny) is a blessing to the character of P.L. Travers. She is an unpleasant, particular, and snobbish kind of woman. Although she grew up in the outback of Australia she rejected her Australian nature for a British and Irish obsession. It is the contrast between the character from her early days in Australia with her family and her life after she left Australia that really give this film depth.

The story is simple enough, flashbacks to the little girl, Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley), with the ongoing saga of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) insisting she give them the rights to make the book of Mary Poppins into the film. But it is the simplicity and ordinary nature of the story that makes it a powerful tale. A girl who is continually with wanting to live in an imaginary world and the the world telling her that it is not a fairytale. The dissipation of hope and the insistence of harsh reality. The little girl is washed away through the bleakness of the world and yet, through all of this, she creates a wonderful world of fiction. An escape that captures the minds of millions of people. And it is this essential quality that Emma Thompson is able to present in beautiful clarity through her dealings with Walt Disney and the script and song writers of Mary Poppins.

Another stand out performance for me, mostly because I am Australian, is that of Colin Farrell. His Australian accent is perfectly subdued and subtle. So many times accents can be overdone, and Farrell managed to make it real. His charm and frivolity make the father of Ginty come alive. Without the rawness of the performance this film could have failed to bind together Mrs Travers’ past self and future self. The cohesion of the film is sturdy rather than flippant which is evidently the work of John Lee Hancock (The Blindside, The Rookie) as the director. To create a world where joy is balanced and juxtaposed with sadness.

I would never claim that this film is one of my favourites, it has its flaws, however I do believe that the essence of the film is an important tale to be told, such as the one in Mary Poppins. Without hope, playfulness, and a little imagination, this world is as bleak as we want to make it. We have minds that are capable of making even the smallest of chores a joy. Reality is only as harsh as we imagine it to be, so why not imagine it to be like a spoonful of sugar?

3.5/5

Advertisements

A Love Story Without A Marriage At The End – Brave

Brave - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Brave – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Brave (2012)

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
Writers: Mark Andrews (screenplay) and Steve Purcell (screenplay) and Brenda Chapman (screenplay) and Irene Mecchi (screenplay), and Brenda Chapman (story)
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson

One of my favourite Spice Girls’ song is Mama because it’s not your usual soppy song but it’s about girls gaining understanding about their mums and what they have had to put up with as they have raised us. It speaks of a kind of love which is unique, frustrating, and that triumphs in forgiveness and humility. It is simply beautiful.

Brave is not your typical Disney Princess story. It’s the story of a girl who is faced with a situation which is unpleasant any which way she looks and with a mother who, although trying to do what is best for her daughter, is trying to push her daughter along a path that clashes with everything her daughter feels. It is about women with fierce pride and about their tortured journey to try and communicate and understand each other’s point of view.

Disney has once again created a beautiful tale of strong female characters and a story that reflects our day and age. The idea of independence, of choice, and of the power to be who you are is one that has really been taking shape for a while now but has really come out in our narratives recently. And I love it. It is a wonderfully powerful role model and heroine for young women and allows us to break out and explore the world in our own way. It is about coming to the realisation that our mother’s want the best for us, but that we also need to teach them as much as they teach us. Ultimately it is a love story between mother and daughter.

I loved this film because it was typical Disney with it’s great comic timing in animation and its brilliant narrative of adventure, discovery, forgiveness, and triumph. The biggest surprise in this film is that there isn’t really an “evil” that the protagonist is fighting against. There is a witch but she isn’t necessarily evil, and there is a mad bear but he’s just sick with power and loneliness. There is no evil villain but there is the battle of pride which Merida and her mother have to come through. It is this aspect that makes the film different from other Disney princess films and appealing to me as a viewer. I didn’t have high expectations for Brave because I was afraid it was going to be underwhelming like Princess and the Frog was. But Brave really blew me away as it was a beautiful animation and narrative that made me laugh and sigh and come out of feeling uplifted. And that’s what Disney films are meant to do right? They are meant to make you dream and make you feel like anything is possible in the world. Merida is a wonderfully strong heroine and I loved this film so much it may end up bumping Tangled down into third place in my top Disney films list. Beauty and The Beast will always be my favourite but Brave is about a restored mother/daughter relationship and that is a wonderful breath of fresh air in Disney films as it makes up for all those evil step-mothers and their mistreatment of their children. Now we have a magnificent mother character in Disney.