Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland
Cast: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, Radha Mitchell, Luke Spill, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud
Director: Marc Forster
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG mature themes
Running Time: 101 Minutes

Unlock Your Imagination

'Finding Neverland' is a tale of magic and fantasy inspired by the life of James Barrie, the real-life author of the children's classic "Peter Pan". Set in London in 1904, the film is a fictional account of Barrie's creative journey to bring Peter Pan to life, from his first inspiration for the story up until the play's premiere at the Duke of York's Theatre - a night that will not only change Barrie's own life, but the lives of everyone close to him.

My Verdict:
Johnny Depp plays James Barrie in this wonderfully uplifting story, inspired by true events, that motivated Barrie to write the story of Peter Pan. Barrie is a playwright in London, in the early 1900's. At the time, Barrie had not had many successes but he continues to be financially supported by producer Charles Frohman played so deftly and precisely by Dustin Hoffman. When Barrie comes up with the idea for Peter Pan, Frohman is a reluctant partner but is drawn in by Barrie's enthusiasm that this play is to be 'the one' that will surpass all others. Indeed he was proven right, as Peter Pan goes on to become an instant success, then and forever more.

James Barrie is portrayed as such a gentleman by such a present day gentleman in Johnny Depp. We first meet Barrie at a London park where he befriends the penniless Llewelyn Davies family - a family of four boys and their widowed mother, Sylvia, played so strongly by Kate Winslet. Barrie finds something in the Llewelyn Davies family that he doesn't have in his own home life - children with the ability to imagine and make believe. Barrie is married to Mary, (Radha Mitchell), but theirs is not an ideal nor particularly happy relationship and Barrie is drawn more and more to the Llewelyn Davies family, so much so that the locals suspect his intentions are less than favourable, and more so, Sylvia's mother (Julie Christie) who decides to oversee the struggling Llewelyn Davies household. But Barrie is inspired by the Llewelyn Davies family, especially the boys and in particular eight-year-old Peter, played by Freddie Highmore, who will surely bring a tear to your eyes as he struggles to overcome and deal with his father's death and Barrie's good intentions. Freddie Highmore is one of the highlights of the movie - along with Depp.

What follows is Barrie's joy at discovering there really is a neverland, not just the one he thinks there is in his head. Inspired by the Llewelyn Davies family and his interactions with them, Barrie pens Peter Pan, finding the rainbow that he had been searching for himself and he vows to show Sylvia a neverland that she never dreamed could exist in such an emotionally charged scene that even the hardest heart should surely melt. This is one of the most beautiful moments in a movie that should not be missed for the sheer joy, wonder and magical happiness that it brings.

Much attention has been paid to detail in 'Finding Neverland', with costumes, settings and ambience all giving a genuine feeling of the early 1900's along with Depp's portrayal of a man that inspired many to want to never grow up that is so absolutely perfect it is hard to describe in words. 'Finding Neverland' is such a beautiful and warm movie that it will touch you as you join in the sheer emotion of a truly remarkable and stirring story, played with such passion by such an inspiring cast. Don't miss it.

Rating : A

Christina Bruce