Actors Save Ordinary Banks

The tragic yet fascinating life of P.L. Travers, author of the beloved children’s story Mary Poppins, debuted on October 20, 2013 in the historical drama-comedy Saving Mr. Banks.

In London, 1961, P.L. Travers “Pamela,” struggling financially and about to lose her apartment, reluctantly decides to go to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney about adapting Mary Poppins to the silver screen.

Disney has been courting her for over 20 years in order to get the film rights to the children’s story and is beside himself that she is finally coming to his studio. While Pamela struggles with Disney over the direction of the movie, the audience is taken through a series of flashbacks to her childhood in the outback of Australia, emphasizing her close relationship with her alcoholic father.

Working with the film crew proves difficult, as Pamela believes that the use of cartoon animals and flashy songs are an injustice to her Mary Poppins, detracting from the message of the story with their frivolousness. She is particularly disturbed with the team’s portrayal of Mr. Banks.

Over time, Disney and his subordinates realize how important the story is to Pamela and her emotional ties to each character, especially that of Mr. Banks.

Saving Mr. Banks not only follows the history of the making of Mary Poppins and Disney’s relationship with the author, but also the inspiration for the beloved children’s story and P.L. Travers deep connection with its plot and characters.

The use of flashbacks is effective in depicting Pamela’s childhood and her strong bond with Mary Poppins. They are tastefully placed, normally near something in the present that reminds her of an event in her childhood that influenced the story, speeding up until she and the team finishes the film.

Although the movie lends itself to drama and tragedy, Saving Mr. Banks is, in a sense, saved by its comedic elements, especially the quirks of Disney, played by Tom Hanks, and Pamela’s condemnatory yet hilarious remarks.

Emma Thompson plays the role of Pamela near perfectly, with her charming British accent, impeccable manners, and disdain for the tacky elements of L.A. The director’s choice for leading actress is crucial in making Saving Mr. Banks touching yet comedic in a tasteful manner.

Both Thompson and Hanks perform well. The serious and tragic element of Pamela’s childhood is intertwined with the inspirational and “feel-good” component of the film.

Furthermore, the supporting actors and actresses, such as Colin Farrel (Pamela’s father), Paul Giamatti (her chauffeur), Bradley Whitford (co-writer of Mary Poppins), Jason Schwartzman (composer/lyricist), and B.J. Novak (composer/lyricist), are all excellent. The cast of Saving Mr. Banks proveds essential in making an ordinary plot, that of the tragic childhood leading to success, into an extraordinary movie.