The strongest moments of the film are truly memorable because of their focus on the human issues and problems that James and others in his situation face. These occur mainly in the first third of the film, which has an emphasis on what James experiences when he's busking or sleeping on the streets. James is shown ruffling through bins to find bits of food or searching for an unoccupied place to stay, but importantly the film also shows the disdain and indifference he faces from the general public.
James on his own struggles to get any money for his busking, hardly enough to buy food, and is treated like vermin by even those who are meant to help him. Val is the character who is responsible for getting James in a temporary home and to beat his addiction, but even she is initially very sceptical about James's sincerity, and her boss treats James's case as a lost cause immediately. Perhaps the most important aspect of this first third is the comparison between it, and when Bob eventually comes into James's life, as it becomes clear that the people giving him money care more for the cat than for him. Even after he starts to gain fame for his cat, James himself is still treated poorly. This demonstrates a double standard concerning how Bob is treated and how the homeless James is treated, which is what makes this aspect of the story depressing but interesting.
Bob the cat is generally just a friend for James to confide in when he starts trying to overcome his drug abuse, but then becomes an oddly revered character that James places on a pedestal even at the cost of looking after himself. This is addressed as a flaw of James's character in the film, but the fact that Bob dominates most of the film's scenes indicates that this reverence was likely meant to be shared by the audience as well. While the cat's portrayal in the film is quite expressive and generally works, there is also a limit to how effective the shots focusing on the cat are for certain key scenes, such as when James is trying to beat his addiction 'cold turkey' and there are shots of Bob simply staring at him. This scene in particular, especially considering how well Luke Treadaway plays James's role, raises the question whether if may have been more effective if there were fewer scenes about Bob, and more about developing James's character; we are told very little about what happened to James to get him into the situation he's in.
Many have described this film as either a typical "redemption story" or a "feel-good" movie, and while the former is quite appropriate given the focus on James beating his addiction and getting his life back together I have issues with the latter. Throughout the film it is apparent that the success that Bob offers James on the streets is based on people's appreciation of animals over other human beings, which is not a very uplifting thought. Yet this aspect of their relationship is perhaps the most important, emphasising how little help or sympathy James receives from others and how much Bob means to him as a companion.
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