James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) is a drug addict and street performer barely getting by in London. A social worker, Val (Joanne Froggatt) sees something in James that he doesn't see in himself. She sets him up in a trial apartment of his own, hoping for the best --- and along comes a ginger tom cat who manages to do the unimaginable.
James finds the ginger injured and curled up in the hallway of his housing. He is dealing with his own demons, but takes the cat in, promptly naming him Bob (Street Cat Bob), fixes him up and attempts to send him on his way. But Bob is not to be denied. He finds James and lets him know in his very cat manner that he has no intention of leaving, and soon the two are inseparable.
Also helping James along is Betty (Ruta Gedmintas), who's living in her deceased brother's flat to better understand his path of addiction. She doesn't know that James is a recovering addict, but the two bond and share a love of Bob.
Based on the international best seller of the same title, "A Street Cat Named Bob" is a truly wonderful film. James Bowen wrote the book, which was adapted for screen by Tim John and Maria Nation. Whether you're a cat lover or not, it doesn't matter --- "A Street Cat Named Bob" restores your faith in humanity. I think we can all use a little of that right now.
Treadaway is superb --- really. It's not easy playing opposite an adorable cat with incredibly expressive eyes. He does manage to hold his own with Street Cat Bob, and the two are marvelous. James carries Bob around on his shoulders, which is at once bizarre and endearing. As moviegoers, we can only marvel at the joy James must have felt when his street audience took to Bob so completely, and appreciated his music all the more.
Froggatt, from "Downton Abbey" fame, is an excellent choice for the compassionate government employee who believes James has a chance at a better life. Gedmintas also adds a nice touch as the caring friend who is ultimately trying to heal herself. Both women give understated performances, yet are integral to the success of "A Street Cat Named Bob".
David and I are suckers for films about animals/pets --- but only if they're good! And "A Street Cat Named Bob" is great!
Opinion: See It Now!
If you're in the mood for a feel-good movie about a stray cat who changes the life of a once-homeless drug addict --- and what better time than now for that --- "A Street Cat Named Bob" is the answer. Based on the best-selling book of the same title, and made on a relative shoe string budget, the film is one you could easily overlook --- but don't!
It has more heart than a dozen blockbusters, and while the human actors all do a great job, the cat is amazing. Actually, a cluster of cats were slated for the filming, but Street Cat Bob, the adorable ginger cat who resurrected Londoner James Bowen's very existence, appears most often as the title character.
Luke Treadaway plays Bowen, who co-wrote his story with Garry Jenkins. Bowen was a drug addict who meagerly supported himself as a street musician, aka "busker", but not enough to provide shelter or support his drug habit. Fortunately for Bowen, a social worker named Val (the wonderful Joanne Froggatt from "Downton Abbey") finagles Bowen into the British welfare program and places him into what turns out to be a very nice subsidized apartment.
Bowen has a pretty neighbor named Betty (Ruta Gedmintas) with whom he starts up a relationship (Treadaway and Gedmintas are linked romantically in real life). But the threat of lapsing into his drug habit is always present. Betty makes it clear she will have none of that. This side story is fine, but the meat of the movie has James, with Bob draped across his shoulders, performing on the streets of London, playing his guitar and doing vocals. At one point, Bowen also takes up selling magazines to tourists and native Brits who want to take his picture.
My only mild complaint about "A Street Cat Named Bob" is that while Treadaway does a nice job eliciting our empathy, I wanted him to be a performer with a purer singing voice. It would have made the adoring crowds that much more credible. Director Roger Spottiswoode, who helmed one of the finest films I've ever seen ("Under Fire" with Gene Hackman and Nick Nolte, 1983) provides plenty of suspense when Bob disappears for a time, including a brief foray into the dangers of being an animal in an urban area --- like traffic!
W.C. Fields famously decried working with animals or children, but "A Street Cat Named Bob" proves him wrong. How can you not like a feline who high-fives on command? It matters not if you're a cat or dog lover, you should find this movie as irresistible as its four-legged star.
Opinion: See It Now!