WHAT I LIKED: 'Saving Mr Banks,' portrays the heartbreaking pain an artist feels when their beloved work is adapted by somebody else through the fascinating true story of P.L. Travers' negotiations with Disney over Mary Poppins, but what makes this film so wonderful is that it builds its characters extremely sensitively and feels entirely unbiased as a result. Yes rather than scathing how protective Travers was over her story or the ways Disney adapted it, we instead get an entirely objective look here as the film instead aims to get to the bottom of what Mary Poppins is really about and why that matters to both the original author, Walt Disney himself, and thus the millions of fans this story has across the world.
In the case of Mrs Travers, we largely get to understand her side of things through flashbacks to her childhood where it becomes very clear how she translated her childhood traumas into the story that we know and love, but we also get a typically brilliant performance from Emma Thompson as the adult Travers where her tight grip on the story is understandable and her vulnerability is felt underneath the steely exterior.
Then of course there's Walt Disney (portrayed perfectly by Tom Hanks) who clearly has a huge affection for the story and wants to do it justice in the way he knows, but as the creative battle ensues, in the end it all becomes about him realising the true moral of the Mary Poppins story and the reason it's so important to Travers personally. Whether that's what happened in real life isn't necessarily the point - it's more that in the end we've gone on a journey of discovery with Disney to objectively consider why this classic story and this classic film are so universal. As a result, when in the final moments Travers and Walt sit down and watch the film for the first time with a surrounding audience, it's all rather moving stuff and feels like a real celebration of something properly great. All in all when you couple that with some properly hilarious musings on the differences between British and American cultures through a witty fish-out-of-water script, what you've got is not only an admirably objective study and celebration of a great piece of work, but also a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and moving film that any fan of Mary Poppins will enjoy.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Things do occasionally tip into the realms of melodrama.
VERDICT: An objective study and ultimately a celebration of what makes Mary Poppins so universally appealing, 'Saving Mr Banks,' winds up a thoroughly enjoyable and moving film in its own right with two great performances at its centre.