There’s more than a spoonful of sugar added to this fictionalised account of the fractious working relationship between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins scribe PL Travers, not least in the suggestion that Uncle Walt finally managed to win over the intractable British author to his bright and breezy adaptation of her novel. In truth, Travers was so dismayed at the cartoon penguins and chirpy songs she subsequently banned any Americans from adapting her works to any form of media.
But ‘Saving Mr Banks’ is itself a Disney film, meaning veracity lags a far second to crowd-pleasing schmaltz. As Travers, Emma Thompson’s charmingly aloof performance inevitably channels more than a soupçon of the no-nonsense spirit of Julie Andrews’ Poppins, but the sadness and quivering passion beneath her crimplene exterior hints at a world of lost innocence as she recalls the alcoholic father of her childhood. Tom Hanks’ gee-shucks fireside cuddliness as Disney is arguably one big PR exercise for the House of Mouse, but the on-screen chemistry between the two leads is winsomely irresistible.
‘Saving Mr Banks’ screens at the Dunamaise Arts Centre next Tuesday, November 4.