It makes perfect sense that any of the marketing we’ve seen for “Saving Mr. Banks” so far has focused almost exclusively on the relationship between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), and that makes sense. That is what the film deals with for the most part, but there’s another relationship in the film that is, in its way, even more important.
Colin Farrell plays Travers Robert Goff, father to Helen Goff, aka Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley), the little girl who eventually grows up and takes the professional pseudonym of P.L. Travers. He is her world, as we see in flashbacks, and Farrell is great in the role. He shows us exactly why he would be so revered by his little girl, the dreamy and inventive personality that makes him so much fun to be with, and he also shows us why Goff was such a disaster in the professional world. His alcoholism is just part of the problem. He is simply not wired for adult life, and the ways he fails are heartbreaking. One of the things that has always defined Farrell is that sense of danger that is always simmering, and the thing that makes him dangerous here is just how much faith his daughter has in him, and just how misplaced it is.
I don’t get the feeling that sitting in a room and talking about his work is high on Farrell’s list of favorite things, but anytime we do end up having a conversation about one of his films, he strikes me as thoughtful and focused and very serious about his craft. I also get the feeling he doesn’t really put up with a lot of nonsense that can be part of this industry. It never feels like a conversation with him is about marking time. Instead, it feels like if he’s going to put in the time and the effort, then he’s going to try to have as real a conversation as he can under the circumstances, something I certainly appreciate.
I am always interested in what happens between actors when you’re playing father and child like in this film, and Farrell couldn’t have nicer things to say about young Annie Buckley. Their scenes are some of the most indelible in the movie, and I’m glad I got to talk to him about this one in particular.
“Saving Mr. Banks” is in theaters everywhere on December 13th.