Top positive review
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Pitch Perfect Performances, A Film With Heart
on 19 April 2014
This is a lovely film, crass, brash Americana meets post-colonial stiff-upper-lippiness! Tom Hanks does a great job of playing a kindly Uncle Disney version of the eponymous Walt, all paternalism and Apple Pie but Emma Thompson is the total show-steeler with her rendition of the psychologically damaged, ice-maiden that's PL Travers.
Through flash-backs PL Travers early life traumas are spilt for us delicately, stitching together a picture that sees the slow destruction of the deified figure of her father into the alcoholic shadow he became. We see him fail, repeatedly, we see these events impact on her mother all the while in the present of our story, 1960s America, we see Walt Disney and writers of the motion picture screenplay for Mary Poppins trying to melt PL Travers icy heart. She needs to sign the rights over so the movie can be made and she is extremely sniffy about some of the frivolous directions they seem to have taken her character.
This is a quality movie, gentle, thought-provoking and effectively braiding its stories set in different timelines neatly and completely in a way that was very satisfying. We all know that PL Travers relented and Mary Poppins got the Disney treatment and in one of the most touching moments in the film we see Emma Thompson's character crying buckets as the bank manager dad returns at the end to sing and dance enthusiastically ready for kite-flying. The epitomy of fatherliness and good times absent from her own upbringing and the antithesis of her own dad's ignominious ending. Of course, truth and biography have been tweaked here to make a more complete story I'm sure, but it has been done in such a loving and respectful way that both Disney and PL Travers emerge as sympathetic figures.
Well worth a couple of hours of your time.
**** (Four stars)