I’ve not heard of director Paul King before, but what he’s done with Paddington is craft a clever, witty and heart-warming film. With a plot which contains a couple of stories from the first of Michael Bond’s book about the bear from Darkest Peru, the main theme is that of wanting to belong and finding one’s place in the world as Paddington comes to London to find somewhere to live.
It would have been easy for Paul and cinematographer Erik Wilson (The Imposter, 2012: an absolutely stunningly shot documentary) to simply point the camera at the actors and composite a CG bear into the live action; but there are plenty of cool transitions (dolls house) sweeping & tracking shots and nice little details. All of which shows that they cared about this film and weren’t interested in simply shooting by numbers.
Of course the cast is excellent. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, while not perhaps the exact characters of the book, nevertheless inhabit their characters perfectly and create real empathy with Mr and Mrs Brown. Their children Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin (Judy and Jonathan Brown) fit into this dynamic pretty perfectly, each with their own arcs. Surround the main quartet with support from Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Jim Broadbent and Nicole Kidman and nothing was ever likely to go wrong. Even Super Hans’ (Matt King) brief moment as a pickpocket was well judged!
This is all before mentioning Paddington. Rather than being a cg creation with no real character, I never really doubted that he was really there. All empathy is really derived from the fact we can all relate to the child in him and the big kid in us. That and the brilliant voice acting from Ben Whishaw.
All this results in a hugely enjoyable film; the cast are all super, there are brilliant bears and there are some wonderful bits of film making. Great stuff. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.