London Film Festival 2013 – Day 12

Saving Mr Banks

And so after 12 days and over 250 features from 57 countries, we end where we began – with a Tom Hanks Hollywood blockbuster. And while Captain Phillips is in many ways a self-analysis of Obama-administration American muscle, the soul-searching continues in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr Banks. It’s Disney examining the Disney legacy, with affable, honest Walt (some whitewashing here perhaps) but also critiqued by PL Travers, the snooty author of the Mary Poppins children’s books, who condemns its vulgar opulence, its monochrome morality of heroes and villains and its inadequate educational value – preparing children for the world with little more than a song, a dance and a spoonful of sugar. But as “Mrs Travers” slowly succumbs to the Disney dream, by the end walking into the film’s premiere arm in arm with Mickey, she’s on her own journey of self-discovery – through her subconscious and laying her own ghosts of the past to rest. It’s a very American style of ‘therapy’ film that shines with a very Disney gloss – with its golden-hued backstory that explains everything and its emotion wrangling. But with a fantastic performance from Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks offers an intriguing insight into the process of adaptation. And in the ongoing battle between US fluff and European grit, the Americans may have won in em>Saving Mr Banks, but in the rest of this year’s London Film Festival there’s a lot more to sing and dance about.

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