Paddington, Film Review. Picturehouse@F.A.C.T., Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Michael Gambon, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Matt Lucas, Madeline Harris, Samuel Joslin, Matt King, Tim Downie, Geoffrey Palmer, Jim Broadbent, Michael Bond, Alice Lowe, Simon Farnaby, Dominic Coleman, Will Smith, Javier Martez.

In even the most unassuming of people, there is the potential for greatness and joy. The tales of Paddington Bear are amongst the most loved in children’s literature television, and yet the stories are so well imagined and presented, that like all the best characters from British Literature they appeal right across the age spectrum and the latest incarnation for the cinema is just as enjoyable and just as much fun as an audience member could ever hope for.

In an age where the political climate in Britain is dominated by un-natural thinking, it is heartening to see a story of an immigrant, no matter the species, being welcomed into the hearts of a community, of one who has perhaps more knowledge of what the past actually meant to the nation and the sense of fair play that, perhaps misguidedly at times, other nations used to rely and cherish in the British people.

Paddington may seem a fluffy, almost innocent film in which to hang upon a visit to the cinema but beneath the fur rages a great timeless story of loss, inequality, acceptance and conquest of the heart. A tale of cultures clashing and the chilling morality of what happens to some when they are cut off without hope and a friend; it is the single biggest compliment to society when a film arguably presented with children in mind can hold a mirror up to society and suggest to it with ingenuous menace that how we are thinking is a pretty absurd way to see life.

Paddington is a film that lovingly captures all the finest details of Michael Bond’s books and the animated television series of the 1970s and gives them a big-screen home in which is never shy to extol the virtues of modern cinema techniques. The lavishness in which Paddington Bear is given life, his many quirks that could not be properly attested to with the limited budget in which children’s television was used to 40 years ago, is now properly utilised and in Ben Whishaw there is the most perfect of voices guiding him.

In many films that have been adapted from childhood loves and late night reads under the blanket, safely cocooned and semi lit up by the power of a Christmas stocking torch, the cinema goer, perhaps sharing the experience with their own children, may wonder exactly what goes on in the mind of the casting agent. In Paddington though, congratulations should go to these anonymous links in the cinematic chain. To have the likes of Hugh Bonneville, the enormity of Nicole Kidman, giving a fine performance without her leading man of choice Colin Firth in which to bring out the best of her, the cinematic beauty of Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi as the annoying, mean spirited Mr. Curry and the ever delightful Julie Walters as Mrs. Bird is one in which to relish the vast array of talent available in this country and those that come far beyond the shoreline of Dover.

Paddington is a film that should be seen without prejudice and taken in and given a home; some things are just too good to be allowed to sit alone in the dark.

The bear facts are that Paddington is simply P-awsome!

Ian D. Hall