A Street Cat Named Bob tells the true story of James (Luke Treadaway), a homeless busker and recovering heroin addict, who is given a second chance by his support worker who offers him accommodation. Enter the eponymous Bob (played by the real Bob, along with several stunt doubles), a charming ginger cat, who breaks into James’ flat and makes himself a permanent feature in his life.
After the inseparable busking duo become minor Covent Garden celebrities, James is emboldened to get his life back on track: reconciling with his estranged father and battling to come clean, all with Bob by his side.
Treadaway isn’t the most believable drug-addict with his light-hearted, relaxed demeanour. He does however shine in a few scenes, a standout being his week spent going cold turkey, where his pain feels very real. His jovial and endless rhetoric with Bob is a little awkward, although he becomes more genuine when interacting with other humans.
There is a lovely sentiment to the film, and the overall tale is quietly heart-warming, however it is executed poorly. Director Robert Spottiswoode makes some bizarre decisions, from the clumsy point of view shots showing Bob’s perspective, to the excessive time allocated to one-sided, rambling dialogue between man and cat which all leave the film feeling inconsequential, awkward, and a bit naff.
Despite the gritty backdrop of addiction, poverty, and homelessness, these themes are left unexplored, in line with the 12A certification. Spottiswoode focuses instead on trivial and clichéd escapades such as a trip to the vet, a dog chase, and Bob being let loose in a middle-class home and, inevitably, breaking a vase. It is neither an honest portrayal of poverty, nor a particularly fun, cutesy pet film.
However, A Streetcat Named Bob does not set out to be a hard hitting social commentary, it simply wants to tell a story, and this, it does. The story is lovely, and has a simple message to take away about the importance of seeing the potential in people, and believing in them. We’ll leave the bleak social realism to Ken Loach.
Image: Garry Knight; Flickr