Tails of hope and despair

Street cat named BobFILM | A STREET CAT NAMED BOB | PG

Review by BARBARA ALLEN

Loosely based on James Bowen’s 2012 autobiography, A Street Cat Named Bob, this movie is about the relationship between a homeless man and a cat.

Bowen (brilliantly played by Luke Treadaway) is a recovering heroin addict who moves into assisted accommodation, where he is befriended by a ginger street cat, whom he names Bob (Bob actually plays himself – he really is an amazing cat).

Bob, an angel with four legs and fur, is the reason James busks and, later, sells The Big Issue because James now has someone to look after. This is also the reason that he finally gets ‘clean’, going through the hell of detoxing.

A number of reviews have called film ‘feel-good’ ‘sentimental’ or ‘heart-warming’. There were elements of this, but the issues it covers are gritty and graphic. I think it warrants an ‘M’ rating rather than its PG status, and would warn against taking children to see it.

While you can focus purely on the inspiring individual story of how Bob effectively rescues James, the wider ramifications of what you see in the film are disturbing.

James is living in sheltered accommodation when Bob arrives. While there is violence on the streets during the day, he has a safe haven at night, unlike the majority of the homeless and their animal companions.

James is a gentle character; he doesn’t mistreat Bob, or ‘use’ Bob purely to bring in more money. Bob also gets to stay in the flat when James sees reluctance to go outside and thus the cat gets some respite from street life. Sadly many animals are not so lucky.

Pets of the Homeless are doing a great job of helping look after the animals on Melbourne streets, so support them if you can. Also when you next encounter a homeless person or someone selling The Big Issue, smile, or acknowledge their presence, whether they have a pet or not.

Rev Barbara Allen is a spirituality and creation project worker with the synod.

In cinemas now

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