Finding Neverland

Dan Movie Reviews

Due to a change in venues – which I was uninformed about – the screening of Finding Neverland was moved to the Ince Theater at Sony Imageworks in Culver City. I discovered this after I went to Sony, and was directed to the Backstage Theater, where they were having a screening – for another movie. Then I was sent to the Culver Studios, where the DeMille Theater was located. From there, they sent me to Ince. Lovely. In any case, the film started late because of the rain, and I apparently wasn’t the only person who got routed around.

The film is based on J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, and the Llewelyn Davies family, who inspired his work. Barrie (Johnny Depp) is a playwright coming off of a recent flop, and ends up encountering Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and her four children. Fatherless, the boys have no role model, and Sylvia has her hands full. Barrie spends time with Sylvia and the boys, much to the disconcernation of his wife, who feels ignored so far as to seek an adulterous affair. His relationship with them is also viewed as “improper”, and Sylvia’s strict mother (Julie Christie) tries to keep them apart. Meanwhile, Barrie is helping the boys explore their childhood and imagination – all manner of fantasy which ultimately inspires him to write his play, “Peter Pan”.

Of course, Sylvia has health issues, and since the boys already lost their father, this provides a good motive for the boys to fear change, losing their mother, etc. Directed by Marc Forster (Moster’s Ball), the film has a very touching emotional heart, while avoiding becoming too heavy. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some moving moments, of course, and Depp and Winslet do marvelous work here. (I found particular amusement in the “fantasy” scene where Depp plays….. a pirate.)

The music, by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, is quite good – very simple and elegant, and providing appropriate emotional support to the storyline on screen. In the end, this is a rather enjoyable movie that explores (in a quasi-fictional way) the story behind “Peter Pan”, and anyone who likes touching dramas will find this one quite satisfying.