A STREET CAT NAMED BOB | REVIEW
A STREET CAT NAMED BOB is an unexpected feel-good English hit of 2017. I had the choice of reviewing a movie about Matthew McConaughey delivering an Oscar attempting biopic about GOLD, or a movie about a homeless drug-addict and a cat. I knew I could get the other writers to attend GOLD and I would struggle to get them to see A STREET CAT NAMED BOB. So I thought, what the hell, let’s give it a shot. What followed was one of the best movies I have seen this year. A STREET CAT NAMED BOB is out today, February 9th in Australia from the peeps at Sony Pictures Australia. It is rated PG and runs for 103mins.
BY JASON KING
THE HARROWING TALE OF JAMES BOWEN AND BOB:
Based on the international best-selling book of the same name. The true feel-good story of James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, who got visited by a ginger street cat one night in his shelter accommodation. He had no idea how his life was about to change.
James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet. After Bob’s initial visit James finds him injured in the corridor outside his shelter accommodation. James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tomcat, whom he christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas. Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts.
THOUGHTS ON A STREET CAT NAMED BOB:
Bloody sensational. It has that English movie thing where it is completely non-Hollywood, mostly lacking in any pretension and just wonderful to watch. It is at times melancholy and a struggle for James in his recovery. And it is painful to watch but there is always some comic relief coming from Bob just around the corner.
A STREET CAT NAMED BOB is directed by Roger Spottiswoode, a director who can do animal movies. He made a favourite of mine, TURNER AND HOOCH and in 2014 made MIDNIGHT SUN about a polar bear. He somehow adds a family wholesomeness to a movie containing drugs, addiction, death, homelessness and everything else that can go wrong for James and Bob. It made me cry a lot but they weren’t all sad tears, if anything they were more happy tears.
The cinematography is handled admirably from Peter Wunstorf (THE KILLING) who manages to somehow capture the hell of James’ situation while also capturing funny cat moments. The cat cinematography is exemplary – they originally cast a horde of ginger cats for the movie but in the end the majority of scenes feature the one and only original Bob.
FROM WOE TO GO:
The story of James is phenomenal and not something that is usual. I have no idea how many recovering addicts actually make it back to normality but James and Bob’s story is one of hope and redemption and even rags to riches. Their story was so remarkable it started popping up on YouTube, the local papers and even the news. A publisher approached them and they managed to write a book, an international bestseller to be precise. The funds from this book were enough for James and Bob to buy their own home. They are now at eight books and a movie, the feel good vibes from this movie are worth the ticket price itself. Bravo James and Bob.
The cast is superb and spotted with quite a lot of English actors you will recognise. Anthony Head (BUFFY, MERLIN) plays James’ dad. Caroline Goodall plays the publisher. Joanne Froggart plays the one woman who made it all possible, James’ ever patient and diligent drug counsellor, Val. All of these faces add a lot to the movie and there are a few smaller parts where you will recognise people from UK television and screen.
There are three characters who nail the movie. Firstly Bob, no one could imagine a cat could act so well. You can see in a couple of scenes he is like, “whatever guys, just take the shot” but generally he is as good as his counterparts. Then there is the stunning Ruta Gedmintas (THE STRAIN), the somewhat hippy love interest who lives in the same block as James. She is a huge unknowing support to James for most of the movie and their chemistry is superb. A little known fact, Gedmintas and leading man, Luke Treadaway, are a real life couple and were long before the movie filmed. That gave me happy goosebumps.
Luke Treadaway is a marvel in A STREET CAT NAMED BOB. He is best known for some smaller roles in CLASH OF THE TITANS, ATTACK THE BLOCK and more recently, UNBROKEN. He was mostly hired because he could sing and play guitar. And obviously because he looks like James Bowen (see below pic) but the guy deserves awards for this brilliantly underplayed performance. It was nuanced and heartfelt and he had me on board in the first five minutes. I wanted to help him and so will the audience.
A STREET CAT NAMED BOB will melt the coldest of hearts. It is a truly superb real-life tale that needs to be seen. While it does have drug scenes, and a death scene and can at times be difficult to witness I would even recommend taking the entire family to this. Even the smallest of children will understand the healing power of felines, and pets in general. But just be warned, they will want one after this movie. A STREET CAT NAMED BOB will be out on limited release. Check your local directories and check it out before it finishes.
Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.
** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.