Film: Finding Neverland

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Film:

Finding Neverland

Director: Marc Forster
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Distributor: Miramax

Sweetness that doesn’t turn saccharine is hard to find these days; Finding Neverland hits the mark. Much credit is due to the actors: Johnny Depp applies his genius for sly whimsy in his portrayal of playwright J. M. Barrie, who finds inspiration for his greatest creation from four lively boys, the sons of widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet, who miraculously fuses romantic yearning with common sense). Though the friendship threatens his already dwindling marriage, Barrie spends endless hours with the boys, pretending to be pirates or Indians—and…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Sweetness that doesn’t turn saccharine is hard to find these days; Finding Neverland hits the mark. Much credit is due to the actors: Johnny Depp applies his genius for sly whimsy in his portrayal of playwright J. M. Barrie, who finds inspiration for his greatest creation from four lively boys, the sons of widow Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet, who miraculously fuses romantic yearning with common sense). Though the friendship threatens his already dwindling marriage, Barrie spends endless hours with the boys, pretending to be pirates or Indians—and gradually the elements of Peter Pan take shape in his mind. The relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family sparks both an imagined world and a quiet rebellion against the stuffy forces of respectability, given physical form by Barrie’s resentful wife (Radha Mitchell, High Art) and Sylvia’s mother (Julie Christie, McCabe and Mrs. Miller). This gentle silliness could have turned to treacle, but Depp and Winslet—along with newcomer Freddie Highmore as one of the boys—keep their feet on the earth while their eyes gaze into their dreams. Also featuring a comically crusty turn from Dustin Hoffman (who appeared in another Peter Pan-themed movie, Hook) as a long-suffering theater producer. —Bret Fetzer

Barnes and Noble

This dramatized account of how Sir James Matthew Barrie came to write his beloved play Peter Pan is itself magical, not to mention poignant. Finding Neverland begins with playwright Barrie (beautifully played by Johnny Depp) fretting over his latest opus, the failure of which has cost his producer (Dustin Hoffman) dearly. While lounging on a park bench, he takes an interest in four boys, the sons of recently widowed Sylvia Llewellyn Davies (Kate Winslet). These lads, especially the soulful young Peter (Freddie Highmore), stimulate Barrie’s creative juices and give him an idea for a new play. But his relationship with the Davies family sets idle tongues wagging and imperils his marriage. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball) avoids depicting anything untoward, although in later years some biographers have suggested that Barrie’s interest in the Davies boys was not entirely wholesome. As played by Depp, the playwright only attempts to keep alive his own youthful sense of wonder while nurturing the concept that eventually becomes Peter Pan. The performances are all above reproach, with Academy Award nominees Depp and Winslet receiving excellent support from Julie Christie (as Sylvia’s domineering mother) and Radha Mitchell (as Barrie’s frustrated wife). Also notable is Freddie Highmore, whose unmannered portrayal of Peter Llewellyn Davies is one of the best turns we’ve seen from a child actor in years. Brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed, this charming period picture will affect even the most cynical, skeptical viewer—and it will delight those who cherish the notion that a Neverland might actually exist. Ed Hulse

Related Works

Album:Finding Neverland: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Finding Neverland: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

As did the Lewis Carroll/Alice in Wonderland-rooted Dreamchild before it, Finding Neverlandexplores the all-too-human roots of an English children’ s literature classic, in this case author James Mathew Barrie’s (Johnny Depp) enduring fable, Peter Pan. Polish stage composer cum film scorer Jan A. P. Kaczmarek takes the film’s fantasy-leavened, yet ultimately bittersweet tale of Barrie, his losing battle with adulthood and the magic world of prose it inspired and invests it with an exuberant score that positively pulses with…

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