At one point in this enchanting film, Mrs.Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) visit Disneyland and ride a merry-go-round; if that is the only scene you experience, it is sufficient; it captures the dormant child in everyone, the child that never dies, that perpetually resides, comfortably ensconced, in the attic of one’s soul; it is joyful, poignant and for a few golden moments we are without concerns, immaculately, exquisitely, overwhelming happy; a child again, for a fleeting nanosecond, tasting the ambrosia of remembered innocence.
“Saving Mr.Banks” is the story of Walt Disney’s twenty year quest and ultimate seduction of Pamela Travers, the creator, author of “Mary Poppins”; he promised his daughters he’d make a motion picture of their favorite book; in 1961, desperately in need of funds, she reluctantly leaves her beloved London domicile, enters Disney’s mega -metropolis of make-believe; their duel revolves around her absolute intransigence in surrendering her iconic “nanny” to the animated whims of Disney and his creative crew.
The power of the film lies in its flashbacks: 1906, Australia, “Helen Goff” aka Pamela Travers, is the oldest and most cherished daughter of her adored alcoholic father “Travers Goff” (the Mr. Banks clamoring for salvation); Colin Farrell imbues the role with fantasy, charming insouciance, inflaming Helen’s impressionable, fertile imagination; Annie Rose Buckley is bewitching as the young Helen/Pamela, gifting audiences a magical glimpse into the embryonic world of the visionary, novelist, and why “Mary Poppins” cemented the spell that has captivated worshipful readers (and movie-goers) for generations.
The film is owned by Emma Thompson, her boundless skills, in- depth insights and instincts save Mrs. Travers from dimensionless, tiring, curmudgeonly behavior; she is profoundly protective of her wizardly achievement; in conclusion, we grasp, understand her pain when she relinquishes, severs the umbilical thread, and allows the majesty of film to paint a face, a voice, a divinely human presence on her beloved savior, Mary Poppins.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!