As a writer, you learn to love your characters. They’re as real to you as anyone else in your life, and there’s a large part of yourself in them. This is the tale of a strong woman fighting to keep the characters she loved alive and as she wanted them. In this film, P.L. Travers is a difficult woman, who pretty much hated Disney. She couldn’t abide musicals or cartoons, but her current economic situation has forced her to meet with Disney and to possibly sell them the film rights for her most important work, Mary Poppins.
When you search for Saving Mr. Banks on google images you get endless photos of Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, but in truth it’s not his movie. This film is told squarely from the perspective of PL Travers (Emma Thompson) with a number of interludes of her meetings with Walt Disney (Hanks). The film is told in two parts, her meetings with the film makers in Disney and also Travers upbringing in Australia, which is a sad poignant tale, if a little twee. Colin Farrell plays her father, who is still the most important man in her life. Her youth forms the inspiration for her work and the characters in Mary Poppins are based on those in real life. When asked about the characters in her novel ‘They are family’ is her telling response.
This is a sweet story of a difficult and very proper English woman who battles with Disney to maintain the core of her novel. It is funny and sad, but the scenes of her upbringing drag the film down. The main reason to see the film is the performance of Thompson, who carries it along in her brisk and entertaining manner.