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Finding Neverland Movie Review (8.5/10)

Posted on June 16th, 2005 filed in Movie Reviews    |   

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Summary:

Playwright Barrie (Johnny Depp) is going through a tough time after his latest play has bombed and his marriage to Mary (Radha Mitchell) is more dysfunctional than ever. On a stroll through a park, he meets the Davies family, the recently widowed Sylvia (Kate Winslet), and her four sons, spends the day entertainig them, and shortly afterwards becomes their friend. Barrie becomes attached to the Davies and as he witnesses their daily lives, he begins to get an idea for a new play. He’s mostly intrigued by young Peter (Freddie Highmore) who has had the joy of childhood stolen from him by his father’s recent death and is not even capable of making use of his imagination to briefly escape this tragic reality.

His newly found affection however starts generating gossip about improprieties further straining his marriage.


Review:

Finding Neverland is based on the life of J.M.Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and it is quite a magical production that tantalizes the imagination and leaves us asking for more.

Director Mark Foster (Monster’s Ball) tightly directs this story about the man behind ‘Peter Pan’ and expertly recruits the ingenious Depp for Barries’s role.� Depp is no more just a great performer. He’s a tour de force ‘acteur extraordinaire’� that� astounds� with every character he portrays and every role he assumes. He is now Barrie, the adult man that can pinpoint the day when childhood became in his past, and the boy that never grew up and now must rely on his dreams, and those of the four boys, to remain sane.
Foster masterfully allows us to delve into� Barrie’s world and experience his creativity and imagination: A flickering light becomes Tinkerbell, and a prodded finger a captain’s hook, and the crescendo when suburbia metamorphosis into a pirate ship rocking the sea and his bedroom door is the entrance to Neverland itself. The mastery shines when the make believe world is always painfully contrasted with the realities of life. We are always aware of what is real and what is not yet we can’t help but� allow ourselves to indulge into the magic unfolded in front of us.

Freddie Highmore delivers an Oscar-worthy fascinating performance as young Peter. You can virtually live his agony and hurt when faced with his need to grow too fast, and just abandon any notion of a normal worry free and playful childhood. It’s honest tear jerking at its peak with no cheap manipulation or cliches. Just heart felt melancholy that transpires and won’t leave you unaffected as you watch Peter struggle between a world of fantasy and the harsh reality and the momentous risk he is taking by accepting hope from a virtual and much older stranger.
Of note here is the prickly issue of a mature man befriending young boys and the immediate Michael Jackson connotation it carries. The movie succeeds in never breaching a certain essential degree of comfort and thus navigates safely through this potentially deal breaking issue.

The dynamics between Barrie and his wife are first hard to comprehend but then come to light as one that feeds of dreams, and imagination and another that is practical, and socially focused. Not to suggest that she likes it that way. In one of the most haunting scenes, Mary laments her never being able to be part of his dreamworld:

“I was hopelessly naive when I married you. I imagined that brilliant people disappeared to some secret place where good ideas floated around like leaves in autumn, and I hoped at least once you would take me there with you. ”

Finding Neverland is a beautiful magical film and first class family entertainment that will delight both kids and adults. Highly recommended.

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3 Responses to “Finding Neverland Movie Review (8.5/10)”

  1. Becca Says:

    I would just like to say to those that criticized this movie as being silly that obviously they have never lost anyone close, nor have they they felt deep emotional sadness where the thought of escaping to a place where one can play and fly and be free of all the emotional and physical bounds of this world is really a dream and Finding Neverland is a brief, momentarily representation of the dream that eludes us….Perhaps, you who finds it silly is simply lucky that your life has always been so easy and happy that the dream of Neverland is simply not needed

  2. Justin Says:

    What makes me love this movie even more is the fact which you mentioned above, that Finding Neverland is based on the life of J.M.Barrie, the author of Peter Pan…

    Sure puts this entire movie in a much more meaningful perspective, this brilliant author who brought us the timeless story of Peter Pan, the boy never grows up in ‘Neverland’, with Captain Hook and Tinkerbell…..I often wondered what would inspire a man to such write such a imaginative, ingenious, colorful story…perhaps this movie sheds some light…..

    This movie is sensitive, sweet, glorifies friendship in its purest forms!

    I would recommend it as well….

  3. Georgina Says:

    Finding Neverland is a movie that was very highly praised by viewers and perhaps I went into the theater with much expectation (which is always a bad thing) but I really could not fathom its success…. I simply did not like it, it did not touch me in any way possible and I found the general melancholy throughout the entire movie and the characters’ need to escape from the harshness of reality rather annoying…. Maybe I could not identify with the entire concept of lost childhood, or being an adult still in need to remain a child?

    Having said that, I must admit that the performance of Kate Winslet and Jonhny Depp is as usual superb…They are both class A actors and they do a wonderful job, I just think the movie did not merit all this applause

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