Saving Mr. Banks is both the making of a beloved film, and the story of the life behind it. Emma Thompson is brilliant as witty and determined Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers: the famous nanny she created feels like family and she refuses to see her turned into a “silly cartoon.” But money is getting scarce and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) is unrelenting in his pursuit of the rights to the film adaptation.
This sets the stage to the main attraction of this film: a battle of wills between two highly creative, successful, and very, very different minds. The tension and (not so) quiet power struggle underlying every conversation between the two – from movie dialogue to tea – is most entertaining and gives Thompson and Hanks the chance to shine as they play off each other. It’s no small feat to keep your viewer hooked when they already know how the story ends.
This is not, however, a documentary; and the somewhat cheesy conclusion reminds us that this has been made by the same studio who specialises in “sugarcoating darkness,” in Travers’ words. It’s doubtful she would have approved – let alone enjoyed – this romanced rendition of her life, but for us Disney fans and Mary Poppins lovers, it is a treat.
Saving Mr. Banks is released in UK theaters on 29 November.