We saw this last night too! Overall, we enjoyed the film (although, not being familiar with Luther, didn’t make the same connection with Ruth Wilson).
Unfortunately, we found the “Australian” scenes were about as un-Australian as it is possible to be without the use of igloos or Morris dancers. We kept waiting for the in-movie explanation (was it a set of an on-screen movie? A mis-remembered flashback? A commentary on the disturbing tendency of Hollywood to remake all the world in its own image?*) but there was none. It was just California renamed Australia for the sake of a movie. It probably won’t have any effect on non-Australians, but as Australians we found it so distracting that it detracted from the rest of the movie. What’s especially interesting is that, while I’m usually the stickler for accuracy in movies, it bothered mrs nom far more than I. Apart from the landscape, architecture, sunlight(!), flora and fauna (although the fly was close) being all “wrong” the actual story of the Australian flashbacks was well done and moved the film well above the standard 3-act “feel-good” Disney flick.
The cast was excellent. Hanks was good as Disney, Wilson was great as Margaret Goff. Then add Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell and Rachel Griffiths into the mix and you have really solid performers to build on. Emma Thompson, in particular, was terrific and her portrayal of P. L .Travers (along with the way the script set-up her character to be consistent with her childhood experiences) was convincing and compassionate without getting sentimental. By the end of the film you could begin to understand why she was so cold, rude, and seemingly arrogant and to develop some empathy for her damaged world view (Disneyfication of the climactic scene between Thompson and Tom Hanks notwithstanding). Despite the name of the film, this is the story of the adult impact of childhood experiences on P. L. Travers** and it is a story well-told. There are glimpses also of the steel and determination of Walt Disney behind the smiles of the magic kingdom.
If you want high art, don’t see this (or at least go with appropriate expectations). If you want good storytelling with a feel-good ending and a believable, albeit unlikable, main character then Saving Mr Banks is definitely worth the price of admission. If you do go, make sure you stay for the credits - the treasures from the archive, especially the doodles and the audio of rehearsal, are priceless.
[size=85]*Turns out this last explanation was probably correct and probably unintentional although it was, at least in other aspects of the script, also a key part of the storyline.
**A local newspaper columnist made a convincing case for the view that the film was all about her father Travers Goff (played by Farrel) and, more generally, the struggles of men with parenthood, failed dreams and dealing with mortality. Worth a read. [/size]