film, book/film tie in, homelessness, drugs, a street cat named bob, hope, real life

A Street Cat Named Bob

New release in the box office this week, based on a true story. Of James, a heroin addict on a methadone programme trying to get clean. Not doing very well as his friend Bas keeps getting him to shoot up again. They are both homeless, sleeping where ever they can find. Bas brings his friend to a car he found left unlocked, and gives James another score. In the morning a traffic warden is ticketing the car when an angry man comes up to stop her and throw them out. Bas escapes, but James won't wake up. He has OD'd, the heroin mixing with the methadone.

He wakes up in hospital with his sponsor shouting at him. He looks and feels a mess. He knows he needs to get clean, but he has nothing. No home, no life, and no family they withdrew from him long ago. However he tries to reconnect with his father, it doesn't work out. James moved to Oz when he was 11, and his father stayed behind. Even though now he is in London again, and so is his father. Well he moved on, remarried, kids of his own. All James has is his guitar, and his voice. Busking on the streets trying to find enough money to eat. Ending up in an argument in a shop because he is just 9 pence short of a meal and not only will the owner not let him off, no one in there will give him the 9p.

His sponsor realises the only way to get him to have a hope is to get him off the streets. She pulls strings and gets him a flat in a bad area of town, but at least it’s a home. The flat is highly romantically large for a starter emergency home. Kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom, even with some furniture. Most emergency homes are a tiny one room, with nothing, but okay we can ignore that for the film, maybe! All he can think of is the fact there is hot water from a tap, and he can bath. His sponsor leaves him some milk and cornflakes to start out. Oh yeah because that will do him a lot of good when he has no money! Give him a full fridge woman!

He is bathing when he hears a noise in the flat, scared there has been a break in James goes looking with his shoe as a weapon. To find a ginger cat has come in through the open kitchen window and knocked over his cornflakes to eat them. He tries to get the cat to leave, but he crumbles and lets it spend the night in the living room, so of course it ends up in his bed with him. Next day he sends it off on its own after trying to find who it belongs too. He comes back to find it wounded, a neighbour (Becky) lets him in so she can look at the cat. She works at a vet and gives him the number, tells him that the cat needs antibiotics. The cost is reasonable, but thankfully he saw his dad earlier that day. He might not have got any closer to him but the man did slip him some money. Enough to pay for the cat to get well.

James keeps the cat while he gets better, now named Bob by Becky who swears she can hear it speak. Also swears that Bob was put there for a reason, to help James. Becky he starts to grow closer to, but knowing how anti drug she is he lies to her. Or rather just skips over what he actually is. Which of course will later come back to bite him on the ass. Putting Bob out on the streets while he goes off to busk try and make some money. Bob has none of it and follows him onto the street. James sends it back again, only to find Bob has run onto the bus after him. The ticket lady gives him some chord to tie Bob so he doesn't get lost.

Day one of a new start for James, the cat brings interest. People listening to his music, people giving him money. For the first time in a long time he has real money to buy real food. Some of which he gives to Bas when he follows him, demanding he use it for food not drugs. Which unluckily doesn't happen. He finds Bas collapsed of an OD near his home when he comes back from 'work' and the shop with food. The Becky relationship grows closer as he finds out her brother died of an OD which is why she won't be around users. Again he hides all.

Bob brings him luck and money, coming to work every day with him. Until an ass of a dog with a dog makes the dog pee on James's things, causing a fight which gets him arrested. He is cleared, but banned from Covent Garden and from busking for 6 months. With no other way to feed Bob, who is the only thing he is worried of, not his own health. He sells Big Issue, which again has a downside when he gets kicked off it for a number of weeks after a misunderstanding. Thankfully in that time a man comes up to James asking to take a picture for a local human interest story. This will not become useful straight away, but will be amazing in the film's finale. James really will do anything to keep Bob alive and fed.

This is a huge human interest film, showing the reality of life on the streets and life on drugs. How a little thing in your past just builds up until you can't cope anymore. Even with the right help sometimes it just isn't enough to make you want to live. And how a silly little happening, like a cat coming into your life, can change everything. Give you a reason to get up in the mornings. Make your existence a little bit brighter. Taking you through the ups and downs of James’s life. I have said before I very rarely cry at movies. This one didn't have me crying, it had me sobbing when Bob ran away.

I love that over the end titles it shows you the real James, and talks a little of what has happened to him. Even more I love the fact that the whole movie Bob was played by the real Bob. A complete character of a cat. It is wonderful that now James has his break, he is trying to help others behind him. Raising funds for homelessness and animal charities.

I am so proud of them both finding a way to survive against all the odds.

There isn't a rating high enough I could give to this production.

Sarah Beth James