A Street Cat Named Bob

 

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A stray cat called Bob transforms the life of a London busker in Roger Spottiswoode’s heart-warming adaptation of James Bowen’s memoir.

 

Street Cat Named Bob, A
Miracle of the street: Bob the Cat with Luke Treadaway

 

The operative word in the title is ‘street.’ Recalling Withnail & I with its mix of comedy and living on the breadline in London, Roger Spottiswoode’s glistening adaptation of James Bowen’s memoir is a feel-good peep at the underbelly of the capital. The other notable word in the title is ‘cat,’ and the eponymous ginger is nothing short of a guardian angel.

 

A recovering heroin addict busking on the streets, James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) just can’t imagine his life getting any worse when his support worker (Joanne Froggatt) finds him a bedsit with hot water, a fresh packet of cereal and a pint of milk. However, he’s no longer enjoying his first hot shower in years when an intruder breaks into his kitchen: an assertive, fearless and sociable marmalade cat. It is from this moment on that James’s life takes a turn for the better. The cat, Bob, turns out to be a profitable addition to the busker’s act and soon James can afford to buy cat food, a cat lead and even a bunch of flowers for a lady friend.

 

With the number of homeless growing on our streets, it is bracing to observe some of the horrors of James’s day-to-day existence: sorting through a dumpster for anything edible, picking food up from the pavement and spending the night in a car that its owner had forgotten to lock. And those were the good days.

 

The real Bob appears as himself, but permits a number of stunt doubles to do some of the hard work. Ruta Gedmintas is also good value as Belle, James’s sexy neighbour, but her radiant beauty, gleaming white teeth and perfect skin hardly fits in with her surroundings. However, this is Bob’s story – after all, he has the title role – and his knack for attracting favourable attention – and publicity – is undeniably heart-warming. This one could run and run – A Street Cat Named Bob – The Musical? – and after James Bowen’s best-selling books, the film is a wholly engaging and terribly moving addition to the true-life fairy tale.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Bob the Cat, Beth Goddard, Darren Evans, Caroline Goodall, Ruth Sheen, Nina Wadia, Lorraine Ashbourne.

 

Dir Roger Spottiswoode, Pro Adam Rolston, Screenplay Tim John and Maria Nation, Ph Peter Wunstorf, Pro Des Antonia Lowe, Ed Paul Tothill, Music David Hirschfelder, Costumes Jo Thompson.

 

Stage 6 Films/Shooting Script Films/Iris Productions/Prescience/The Exchange-Sony Pictures.

102 mins. UK. 2016. Rel: 4 November 2016. Cert. 12A.