“A Street Cat Named Bob”
Changing a Life
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode “A Street Cat Named Bob” is about James Bowen’s (Luke Treadway) finding a cat in his hallway that changed his life completely.
James had been living hand to mouth as a street musician on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet. However, he couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent tomcat and he named him Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again, but Bob had other ideas. Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly heal the scars of each other’s troubled pasts. The film follows what happens next in this true story.
James takes the cat around the neighborhood but could not find anyone to claim him and the cat essentially moves into his place and Bob decides to keep him. As a recovering heroin addict, James has to make sacrifices to have a pet. One time, he misses his appointment at the methadone clinic when he has to take Bob to the vet and treat a wound with expensive antibiotics.
Bob follows James around and sits on his shoulder as he sings his songs on the street. Soon the musician with the cat has new and enthusiastic audiences. Bob accompanies him after he gets a job selling a newspaper published by homeless people, and his sales soar. And best of all, Bob is with James as he goes through a painful program to get clean from heroin.
Two women encourage and support this drug addict as he struggles to turn his life around. Val (Joanne Froggatt) is a social worker Belle (Ruta Gedmintas) is an artistic neighbor. As the film moves forward, we see and love the healing and helpful ministrations of Bob, a truly remarkable cat.
Despite the serious themes, the movie offers a clear message about second chances and we see that it’s possible to overcome demons if you have someone to love. Other themes deal with humility and compassion.
Bowen’s hardships are compelling, and the picture has its heart in the right place. He is a child of divorce and a wayward soul, living on the street, trying to make some change as a busker and dealing with an addiction to heroin and methadone. As James attempts to clear his head, he has help from drug support worker Val, who manages to pull together an apartment and participation in a recovery program if James commits to becoming clean. When he is offered a rare opportunity for stability and a new beginning, James puts forth an effort to help himself, finding comfort from neighbor Betty), a veterinary tech who doesn’t understand how deep James’s addiction problems go.
“A Street Cat Named Bob” is sometimes bleak especially when looking at James and his many problems. These include his daily routine of street performance and survival, the struggle to find edible food in dumpsters and a safe place to sleep. The film puts a human face on homelessness, highlighting the flow of life that passes desperate souls every day showcasing this unfortunate invisibility. James is simply someone who needs help out of where he is.
James’s unraveling as he struggles to kick heroin, and his lying to Betty and himself show how needy the is. James’s reclamation of dignity puts focus on his quest to help himself.