My Thoughts On… Saving Mr Banks

Just a reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, please skip down to Why Should I See This Film? which is spoiler-free!


Author P.L. Travers reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen. (via IMDb)

What I LIked

  • When I’m asked what my favourite film, I might um and ah a little bit, but I usually come down on the side of Mary Poppins. It holds a very special place in my heart, so I was so excited to see Saving Mr Banks when it was announced. I didn’t manage to get to the cinema to see it, but I finally watched it a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. I loved it. For those of us who are fans of the 1961 film, it’s the perfect companion, watching how it all came about, hearing the fabulous songs, and getting an insight (albeit a slightly Disney-fied insight) into the life of the author who created the eponymous nanny.
  • Emma Thompson is amazing in everything she does, and she is so perfectly suited to this role. She manages to bring a huge amount of likeability to a character who is stubborn, rude and cantankerous. We need to feel sympathy for her at the same time as feeling exasperated by her, and it’s hard to imagine anyone as adept at playing this kind of role as Emma Thompson. She was robbed in last year’s Oscar nominations.
  • Similarly fabulous performances come from Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell. I particularly loved Giamatti’s performance as Travers’ chauffeur, Ralph. Their relationship really touched me; she trusted him as little as anyone else affiliated with the Disney corporation at first, but he won her over, and it was a beautiful moment when he spoke to her about his daughter’s disability. I also loved Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman, playing the creative team working on Mary Poppins and trying their hardest not to lose their tempers with Mrs Travers.
  • Given that this is a Disney film about a Disney film, there was always the worry that Saving Mr Banks would end up mawkish and sentimental, but it avoids those traps almost entirely. It stirs the emotions, and it did make me cry, but it wasn’t soppy or over the top. It has received some criticism for seemingly showing P.L. Travers as having a change of heart about Mary Poppins in the end, and I think the scene where she ends up dancing to Let’s Go Fly a Kite is rather Disney-fied, and almost definitely never happened. But I think that it does a pretty good job at showing that she entered into the whole endeavour because she had to, and not because she wanted to. I think it’s the perfect mix of real life and dramatisation, and I just loved it.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I am the first person to appreciate a sideways glance at the audience from within a film, especially when it’s a reference to a film that I love. The flashbacks to P.L. Travers’ childhood provided lots of these, and to begin with, I was on board, but by the end of the film, I felt as though they were being shoehorned in just a little bit. By the time little Ginty’s Aunt Ellie was saying “spit spot!” I was just about done. I just wanted it all to be a bit more subtle than that.

Why Should I See This Film?

I feel as though this is one of those films that I am so late to the party with that most people will have seen it already! But if there’s a chance you haven’t, I would say that fans of Mary Poppins need to see it immediately. It evokes such a wonderful sense of time and place – 1960s Disney World – that it’s a joy to watch. And the performances, most notably of Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers herself, are just breath-taking.


Right now, I am mostly…

Choosing : On Friday, I had to go to Maldon on the bus for a meeting, and my phone battery was dying for the return journey, so I nipped into the library to see if I could find a book to read. (Ordinarily I can’t read on the bus, but I always give it a go if I am bored, because even ten minutes of reading is better than no reading.) Initially I picked up a John Steinbeck novel called The Pearl, which is really, really short, but then I saw this monster on the World War II shelf, and changed my mind. It’s called The Second World War by Antony Beevor, and given than it was D-Day, I just fancied it. I haven’t started it yet, but I know that Antony Beevor is a master in his field, so I’m excited to get started.

Shopping : I don’t get the chance to do an awful lot of shopping, but I went out yesterday with a couple of items that I had to buy, and came away with a couple of things that weren’t on my list! I bought another t-shirt in Primark, in a similar style to the Hogwarts one from my recent outfit post. It doesn’t have a design on the front, but I really like the colour (a kind of jade green) and the shape. I also bought a new swimming costume, because hopefully I’ll see the inside of a swimming pool soon, and a River Island bag in a charity shop for £2. What a bargain!

Reading : I am almost at the end of a book called The Interestings, which I am reading for the Waterstones Book Club. I have a deadline to finish it, and for a while, I thought I wasn’t going to get there in time, but I did that thing where I reached a point and it became completely unputdownable. A review will follow soon!

Trying : I bought some hair chalks from eBay, and I picked them up from the post office at the weekend. I gave them a very quick try last night, and it wasn’t an overwhelming success. I knew that this would happen, because these things never work for me, but I’ll give them another go and let you know what happens!

Meeting : Yesterday I met a second cousin (I think), who I have possibly never met before! It’s not a new baby, or anything, it’s a 25 year old man! I have an awful lot of cousins (my dad is one of seven and my mum is one of six), but we don’t see them an awful lot. When you are one of six yourself, your own immediate family is quite big enough without factoring in the extended ones!

Listening : I’m listening to Radio 2 as I write this, just for a change.

Anticipating : On Friday I am going to London to see the queen Mark Kermode. He’s chairing a debate about film critics and their place in the modern world of internet reviews. As you can imagine, I’m pretty darn excited about it. I am hoping to get in a trip to the cinema during the day too, possibly to see The Edge of Tomorrow, as I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.


Right now, I am mostly…



Lighting : I finally got around to lighting the candle I got in my Essex Bloggers goodie bad last month, and it smells divine! I’m not generally one for scented candles in the bath, but it made a nice change. 

Watching : I’m trying to branch out a bit with my the films I’m watching, and I want to dip my toe into the horror genre. Trouble is, I can’t find anything appealing amongst the mountains of dross that has been released recently. I might have to go classic. Any recommendations? 



Reading : Another trip to the library on Saturday means another four books to add to the reading list. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. 

Drinking : Apparently I drink gin now. Not sure how it happened, but I really like it! What a lush. 



Fangirling : Mark Kermode tweeted me. Twice. In the same week I spoke to Simon Mayo on the phone. Talk about doing the Wittertainment double. 

On Homesickness

Have you ever been homesick? Not just that vague feeling you sometimes get on holiday, where you can’t wait to get home  and sleep in your own bed. I mean the type where you can’t see the end in sight, and it just makes you so crushingly miserable.

In 2009, I lived in the USA for four months. I went as part of my degree to study abroad at the University of Connecticut. The study abroad component of the degree was a big factor in deciding what I wanted to study. It wasn’t until a year and a half into my degree, when the US application process started, that I began to have a few reservations. Many of these were financial, but a part of me was starting to realise that I was going to be away from home for a quite a long time.

By the time it actually came to leaving for Connecticut in August 2009, I wasn’t altogether unhappy. It was a new adventure, and I was excited to be visiting the States for the first time. Saying goodbye to my family had been more emotional than I had expected, but December didn’t feel that long away at that point, and excitement mixed with nerves was my primary emotion.

But the actual reality of living away from home for four months wasn’t great for me. It wasn’t miserable from start to finish; looking back I know that I had some great experiences and I learnt a lot. But I am not good at making friends, and despite being thrown together with the rest of the Study Abroad students from all over the world, I didn’t really manage to make any close friends from amongst them. I was pretty miserable during the first week, which was supposed to be all about breaking the ice and making new friends, because it felt a lot like everyone was making friends, but deliberately leaving me out (this is almost certainly down to my own paranoia and insecurities, rather than anyone actually being mean).

There were a couple of things that got me through. Firstly, a friend from my home university, Gemma, was studying at UConn too. Although she had missed orientation week, as soon as she arrived and we realised that she was living just one floor above me, things started to get better. I am eternally grateful to Gemma for being my friend and keeping me sane for those four months! As well as Gemma, I had a visit from my best friends in all the world when Rob, Jen, Anna and Vicky flew to New York to see me and stayed for ten days. I know that they got a fantastic holiday out of it, but you don’t get better friends than that. Saying goodbye to them was pretty awful.


~ I may have been homesick, but I never failed to appreciate what a beautiful and quintessential American campus I was living on ~

Finally, in this wonderful world in which we live, modern technology means that we don’t have to be entirely separated from our loved ones. I skyped people from back home almost every day, keeping my homesickness at bay slightly. Of course, the problem with speaking to people is that it makes you realise just how much you miss them!

Now would seem like a good time to impart some wisdom about how to deal with homesickness, but I don’t really have any. I wasn’t very good at dealing with it! I’ll leave you with this, a song by George Harrison. All Things Must Pass is a good mantra to keep in mind about most things.