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15th November 2016

A Street Cat Named Bob

A feel-good story let down by feel-not-so-good storytelling and tone

A Street Cat Named Bob is based on the true story of the life of James Bowen and his cat, Bob. Adapted from the best selling novel with the same title, the film follows James’ journey of getting off heroin and slowly rebuilding his life. All of this, he says, was only possible due to him finding a stray cat, taking him in, learning to care for him and through this, in turn, learning to care for himself.

This film is one which has its heart in the right place: a tale triumphing a man who, unlike others, manages to overcome his hardship and win the battle against his addiction against all odds. However, it doesn’t quite succeed in asserting the right tone; it was unclear as to whether it is a comedy, drama, romantic comedy, or anything else for that matter. This is not to say that it can’t be more than one of these categories, it is more that it doesn’t actually commit to any one at all.

Perhaps it was this ‘heart-warming’ aspect of the film that was problematic. It seemed the makers of this film wanted a celebratory tale which shows a troubled young man overcoming adversity against all odds (which it succeeded in doing). But this also meant that the bleak and difficult reality of heroin addiction and consequences of absent fathers was not deeply enough explored, as of course this does not make for a feel-good film. But to not deeply explore these aspects enough is to take away from and confuse the tone of the film.

It was for these reasons that one finds themselves bored at certain points in the film. But here the makers of the film, again, seem to be making it difficult for themselves; it is very hard to make a film interesting in which one of the main characters is a cat who cannot speak. Yet, despite having a cat as his supporting role, Luke Treadway carries the story along and plays the part of James very convincingly, truly making clear the caring relationship James has for Bob.

Overall, despite its tonal inconsistencies, A Street Cat Named Bob is an easy watch that will most likely lighten your mood, but it is certainly not worth rushing to the cinema to watch.
2/5 stars

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