Do we deserve second chances in life? Yes. Sometimes that thing or someone may not be whom we might expect to get on that right or road to redemption, could it be a cat? We may see a Dog as man’s best friend but in A Street Cat Named Bob, a ginger moggie will man’s best friend, well for at least one man.
Even drug addicts deserve that chance and some people may cry foul ‘these junkies have had 2,3,4, even 5 times!!‘, maybe.However, like anyone been at their lowest ebb they haven’t found that right path yet.
A Street Cat Named Bob is based on James Bowen‘s best-selling autobiographical of the same name, a true story of James’s (Luke Treadaway)life as a recovering drug addict, homeless, hungry, desperate, low in luck. He’s given one last chance to turn his life around thanks to his support worker Val (Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt), who gets James onto Methadone programme. After James agrees she get’s him a bedsit giving him a base to start rebuilding his life.
Now with a roof over his head, he goes back to busking in Convent Gardens (London), returns home goes to bed and is woken up by a cat that’s broken into his home. Thinking the cat might be a neighbour’s he goes back to sleep and in the morning lets it out. A few days later he finds lingering around his home but this time injured, he takes it to a vet, from here James finds himself a new companion who’ll never leave his side.
From the opening scene, we are giving an insight into James vagrant’s life, it’s no fun. Busking, scrounging to find a dry place to sleep for the night, short of a few pennies to buy a kebab meal. He was an addict and we see James overdose in a car and later on in the movie we see him go ‘cold turkey’, both not pleasant viewing.
We really do get that sense of isolation James goes through, the suffering, loneliness. When he first meets his father(Anthony Head) on the street he feels embarrassed to talk to him. It was a fairly uncomfortable moment as you can see he wants to open up and embrace him once more but his new partner doesn’t want to know James at all. This highlights those prejudices people in a similar predicament face and we don’t really learn the full extent of the breakdown, the early reunion was not good.
The wonderful thing about animals, they carry no prejudices against no one. Hope has a new name, it’s called Bob, so was he a gift from God?He is that friend James was crying out for, giving him someone to care for and return he gets the most loyal friend in the world.He won’t leave his side no matter, his aura is like a healing light and with a charm the public love when he busks. Bob even ends up with his own set of scarfs!
Everything seems to be on the up and getting better, which sees him kick off a budding romance with his neighbour Betty (Ruta Gedmintas, Luke Treadaway’s real life girlfriend). She’s a free-spirited animal-loving who helps to bring James and Bob together and closer.
Luke Treadway has always been on the cusp of a breakthrough, this may not Earth shattering but what we get is an honest, heartfelt performance that should take him a step closer to that elusive role. He’s convincing as a man at his lowest ebb, calling out for help, dishelved and vulnerable.
The movie does have its faults. The Cat POVs can be a little disoriented and the movie at times struggles tonely in what direction it wants to go. A Street Cat Named Bob is not a comedy, it is a social drama, that has a feel-good factor which is a social drama with funny moments.It may not be I, Daniel Blake but it’s not a movie scared to explore its dark elements. One that doesn’t attempt to condemn nor condone those people who find themselves living on the streets. A movie with a heart in its right place.
★★★ 1/2 | Paul Devine
Drama, Biography | UK, 2016 | 12A | Sony Pictures Releasing | 4th November 2016 (UK) | Dir. Roger Spottiswoode | Luke Treadaway, Bob The Cat, Ruta Gedmintas, Anthony Head, Joanne Froggatt
Originally Posted at The Peoples Movies | 9th November 2009