The life of British busker James Bowen largely revolves a striking ginger cat named Bob, who refuses to leave him come what may. Bowen’s life received such a complete turnaround because of Bob’s arrival that it warranted a bestseller that has been translated into 30 languages, A Street Cat Named Bob (2013).
The movie adaptation inevitably followed, featuring Luke Treadaway (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, 2012) and Bob playing himself. A Street Cat Named Bob, whose title is a play on the Tennessee Williams stage production A Streetcar Named Desire, has been released in the United Kingdom. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997), the movie also features Downtown Abbey actor Joanne Froggatt along with Anthony Head and Ruta Gedmintas.
Bowen spent years on the unforgiving streets of London, fighting a troubled childhood, poverty and addiction. He was caught shoplifting at a Marks & Spencer outlet to fund his drug habit, and was sentenced to probation and a drug rehabilitation programme. The cleaned-up Bowen began performing at Covent Garden, where he discovered an injured cat in the hallway of his building one day, changing the course of his life forever.
Nobody claimed the little creature that had suffered injuries after being attacked by a fox. Bowen adopted the cat, which began to tail him everywhere, and named him him after the character Killer Bob in the television show Twin Peaks.
Having the feline as a friend required Bowen to think about someone other than himself, he says in the 2007 documentary, A Street Cat Named Bob. “He repaid me with so much love and affection and absolute loyalty that I’ve never seen in any other animal…let alone a cat,” Bowen said. Bob is now an inseparable part of Bowen’s street act and a major tourist draw.
The movie adaptation fits snugly into a popular sub-genre of films about humans and their furry friends. The list includes Harry and Tonto (1974), Marley and Me (2008) and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). Closer home, Santosh Sivan’s Halo (1997) is the heart-warming story of a motherless child who rescues a lovable puppy that later goes missing.