Some people may credit the universe or fate with the serendipitous relationships we have with some people, but it’s rare to think about those divining moments with animals. For the people who have always had animals in their lives, the thought of the absence of this companion is heart-wrenching, and the new film by Roger Spottiswoode, A Street Cat Named Bob, is an exquisite example of how important furry companions can be.
I am wholeheartedly a cat person, and the gentle-faced ginger cat on the poster is what drew me to this film. I knew there was a possibility I would be ending up in tears by the end of the film (example Marley and Me), and I am glad to say the tears that did run down my face were from a full heart. This film is based on the true story of James Bowen (who in the film is played by Luke Treadaway) a musician who battled addiction to take back his life. As James begins to get his life back, a fluffy ginger cat stumbled into his path and decided to claim James as his human and travels the journey with him.
Right from the start, the way the story is told sets up a different type of biographical film. The introduction to James and his troubled life on the streets was shown in an endearing way, yet you would ignore him on the street like the people around him. There is a realization that maybe we shouldn’t be quick to pass those on the streets, you never know what someone is going through. The most profound introduction, however, was that of Bob the cat. The camera shows his point of view on several occasions, cementing the importance of Bob and an integral part of James’ life.
This isn’t just a story of how James was able to recover, it’s a story about the relationships we have with other people, including animals. If you’ve ever owned an animal, you understand this. You understand that sometimes you will talk to your pet and hold conversations, because in your heart of hearts you know they understand. This film does not diminish that trait, but emphasizes the connection between the two.
Seeing part of the world through Bob’s eyes lets us truly examine James as a person. It’s not hard to believe that animals see us for who we truly are, and Bob shows us James at his core. The veil of the “homeless singer” is promptly removed and you only see him as a person who is trying to better his life, which is an element that we can all connect with. In a way it becomes a buddy film.
The friendship that is explored through the film leaves the audience hopeful. As much as I can’t see how anyone would not fall instantly in love with Bob the Cat (IE: non-cat people), Bob becomes a representation of the friendships we all have in our lives. They come in different forms and intensities, yet important to remember that those are the ones that get us through tough times.
This film is based on Bowen’s book, which in turn is based on his life experiences, and while I can’t explain the difference between the two directly, I can mention that you never feel cheated. The parts that are explored in the film and through the course of James’ recovery give you enough of a glimpse to connect with him, but also leaves enough to mystery. There are parts of our personal struggles that we want to keep hidden away, and we are thankful for the struggles Bowen has allowed us to witness. In the end, it’s not important to check off each and every hardship, just that he overcame them.
All of that brings me back to the element of hope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this film is hopeful because if James can do it any of us can, because that takes away from the strength that lies within James. The hope that I’m speaking of is that when we have a partner who sees us as we are beyond the layers of existence, whether this be a human or a pet, we find our best selves through their eyes. We can get through anything with the help of a friend.
A Street Cat Named Bob is out in theaters now.
On a personal note, this film was so moving because it showcased the indescribable love between an owner and their cat, and how special that bond is. If you have a cat, make sure you have your furry friend close, because the temptations to give them giant “thank you” snuggles is fierce.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Prodigy Public Relations