By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
VOD Release Date: January 17, 2017
Based on the book of the same name, A Street Cat Named Bob is a very feline film for those looking for inspiration. When James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) is a struggling street musician with a history of drug abuse, his life takes a turn for the worse when a buddy convinces him to take a shot, and he overdoses. A support worker Val (Joanne Froggatt) thinks he can do better. She helps him at attaining proper shelter and when a ginger tom breaks in to his flat, life makes a turn for the better for both. Bowen saves the kitty because he finds a leg infection, and in recognition, the two forge a bond that’s far too cute. Some observers may say he’s become this man’s muse. Nothing has changed in the music he plays, but the way the cat is so patient around him has me thinking Bob is Bowen’s guardian angel.
Betty (Ruta Gedmintas) is a new age guru and a potential love interest for Bowen. She’s also the one who senses Bob is the perfect name for the kitty. Her breeziness and charm helps lighten the tale. The film is not without its dark moments (not recommended for children) since showing a neighbourhood where drug use is rampant is not easy. Bowen could have easily fallen back into the hole. The movie is not just about Bob. It examines Bowen’s life. After finding his friend OD’ed and pronounced dead, he realizes that he must make a better life for himself.
Bob never steals the scenes, but complements it. Part of this movie’s charm is in seeing how generally docile this puss is. He’s like a sphinx. He’s either perched on the man’s shoulder or sitting on the guitar case. People take notice because there’s an air about him which is very calming. Although there’s a slight hint the musician is hopeful to get recognized as an artist, not all buskers like Chris Leamy get recording contracts. While George Michael humbly started as a busker himself, his rise to fame did not include a pet by his side.
The true charm of this biographical movie lies in how the downtrodden gets that chance at having a meaningful life. Not only should the homeless not be invisible, but they deserve help by those who genuinely care, be it with a social worker or an animal who comes to them (not vice versa). Sometimes, all that hope needs is to give a little and you get a lot back, like in what Leamy did. He was not homeless and he did not need the money, but anything he received, he gave to those homeless on the New York streets. Interestingly, the music Bowen performed are just as inspiring with numbers like, “Don’t Give Up” and “Satellite Moments (Light Up the Sky).”
To distinguish between liberties taken with this cinematic adaptation to the book, I just have to read the printed version and its sequel. I’m assuming a few details from the sequel, World According to Bob, were incorporated in the film, as events lead up to Bowen “deciding” to write about his story. In a November interview with On Demand Entertainment, he mentioned an animated series is in development, and I’m interested in seeing where this cartoon can go. No word is given as to when it will be broadcasted.
5 Cats out of 5