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A Christmas Gift From Bob
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Charles Martin Smith
scr Garry Jenkins
prd Adam Rolston, Tracy Jarvis, Stephen Jarvis, Andrew Boswell, Sunny Vohra
with Luke Treadaway, Kristina Tonteri-Young, Phaldut Sharma, Celyn Jones, Stefan Race, Pepter Lunkuse, Tim Plester, Joanne Zorian, Anna Wilson Jones, Nina Wadia, Stephen McCole, Jacqueline Wilson
release UK 6.Nov.20
Is it streaming?
A holiday-tinged sequel to the 2016 comedy-drama, this film is once again based on a true story and stars Bob as himself opposite Luke Treadaway as junkie-turned-writer James Bowen. It's a gently meandering story with a slightly awkward pace and some rather pushy plot points. But it's an important look at the invisible underclass, vividly depicting how things can quickly escalate for people who have few options.
Enjoying success as an author, James (Treadaway) is struggling to come up with an idea for the follow-up book his publishers are expecting. Then he remembers a year earlier, after he'd kicked his drug problem but was still penniless. Working in the streets, singing Christmas carols with Bob at his side, he's facing a series of challenges, but always takes time to assist people, including charity worker friend Bea (Tonteri-Young). Then as things begin to close in around him, he begins to discover that perhaps he he has more support than he thinks he does.
James is a genuinely helpful guy who sees others in need and does whatever he can, which can't help but be inspirational. But both local officials (Plester and Lunkuse) and a fellow street vendor (Jones) treat him with suspicion, sometimes aggressively so. The film follows James and Bob in their everyday routine, with joy in between fairly mild threats to their life together. It's nice to see a film resists making everything wildly melodramatic. But a bit more edge would definitely help.
Treadaway has a likeable loping charm as the thoughtful, endlessly kind-hearted James. He's so nice that it can only be class snobbery that these animal welfare officers are after him. Indeed, Plester is basically a pantomime villain (other antagonists are more understanding). Tonteri-Young and Sharma are enjoyable as James and Bob's biggest cheerleaders. And Bob shows his remarkable screen presence in a wide range of sequences (he sadly died after this film was completed).
There's not a lot to this story, as it amiably moves along between scenes that are happy, tense, a little scary and also rather moving, making us hope for more movies about the relationship between this boy and his cat. The sweet tone makes it clear that nothing truly horrible is going to happen, and each negative is answered with a rousing positive. It's all rather overwhelmingly heartwarming, and it leaves us feeling all warm and fuzzy inside at just the time when we need it most.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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