“A Streetcat Named Bob” (2017)
Running Time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode
Featuring: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head and Bob the Cat as himself
“Cats are notoriously picky about who they like. And if a cat doesn’t like its owner it will go and find another one. Cats do that all the time.”
― James Bowen, A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life
We live our lives surrounded by the natural world that includes many aspects of life – one of these aspects is the connection we have with animals of all different types, some of the most common are cats and dogs – as well as birds and fish. For some reason we feel the need to draw lines that say we like certain animals more or less, for example I had been a dog person most of my life until I met my wife and we both fell in love with cats – so I guess I am a cat person. Some people have to wait their entire lives until they realise the wonders an animal can bring to into their personal situations, this is one of those stories.
Movies are full of animals both in animated films, documentaries and narrative film. Some of these films are uplifting some are heartbreaking and I can say now that if you have even a small place in your heart for any animal then “A Street Cat Named Bob” (2017) is for you. Based on the book of the same name this tells the story of James Bowen and Bob, his cat and friend.
Homeless and a recovering drug addict, James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) is running low on his luck. He’s given a last chance to turn his life around by his support worker, Val (Joanne Froggatt), who helps him to finally be given his own flat to live in. As James attempts to build a life and future for himself by busking in Covent Garden, he struggles to gain any traction as the London crowd passes him by. Whilst in the bath one day, he hears a break-in and finds a ginger cat in his kitchen eating the corn flakes. Thinking it belongs to a neighbor, he sets out to find the owner but with no luck concluding that it must be a stray. Over the next few days, the cat continues to linger on the estate, and James discovers an infected wound on the animal’s leg. He takes the cat to be treated by a charity vet and from that point onwards, the two lives become entwined.
This is the perfect film for people who want to watch the arc of a character who is at their lowest, cannot see a way forward and is given one break, that leads to something special for everyone, that has something positive to give in life and towards a man, James, who is trying to beat one of the most destructive addictions in our society. Of course he is also helped but the arrival of an animal that could be classed as independent needs as much love and companionship as he does – for all he knows Bob is at his lowest as well. It is a pretty remarkable true story and yes there are embellishments but the ending is happy and true and extremely inspirational. I found myself looking up both characters achievements after the film, it was pretty great to find out their stories.
Luke Treadaway as James leads the film and his co star for most of the film, Bob played mostly by the real Bob the Cat from the real story and multiple books. It would have been the easy option for director Roger Spottiswoode to have the human cast upstaged by Bob but this does not happen, and Treadaway shines in a role that he must not only act in but also sing and play guitar – and for most of it Bob just looks relaxed and calm knowing he is the star of the movie. Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt and Anthony Head are the supporting cast as James neighbor, social worker and father who all throw in advice, support and love where needed but at different times that lead us to the fact that this is not a singular story but one that illustrates that family is not always defined by blood.
This is actually a great family film with touches of social realism and how something simple can changes lives. It also speaks to the power of family, the generosity of strangers as well the ability to change the path of ones life. This is highly recommended.