Finding Neverland

| December 1, 2004

I have just two words for this movie–see it. Actually, I have two more–Freddie Highmore. What an incredible discovery has been made in finding this wonderful young talent. This boy has some tough screen competition- Depp, Winslet, Christie and Hoffman- but he nevertheless steals the show. And how exciting to think that we’ll be seeing him soon, with Mr. Depp again, in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Sorry, I just had to gush for a bit. The kid’s that good.
Really, though, this film is worth seeing beyond the brilliant performance of Highmore. Inspired by the events that in turn inspired J.M. Barrie (Depp) to create Peter Pan, Finding Neverland is a fantastic treat. For what it’s worth, I think that Depp and Winslet are part of an acting elite, a small group that over and over again gives us exciting and believable performances. And how refreshing that Forster didn’t force into the storyline some sordid love affair between these two characters just because sex sells. I applaud him for not letting this film go down the path that every other movie does. Moreover, both Christie and Hoffman give solid supporting performances, although Hoffman is such a pleasure to watch that it’s a shame he couldn’t be used more.
As I already mentioned, however, Highmore is the highlight of this film. For being so young, it is tremendous and just a bit scary how convincing he is as Barrie’s motivation for Peter Pan. I should mention, too, that the other boys in the film also give fine performances. The best bits of Finding Neverland are indeed the moments when Barrie’s imagination runs free with the boys, the group of them creating worlds of their own. In one scene where they are playing pirates, the moment is particularly entertaining because you can’t help but think back to Depp’s Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean. To his credit, he doesn’t rip himself off. That’s real talent, being able to create an entirely different kind of pirate than the one for which he was Oscar-nominated!
Finding Neverland doesn’t disappoint. With wonderful performances all around and a streamlined narrative, this film effortlessly guides us through a tale of magic and delight. It’s the perfect film to see during this holiday season, as it reminds us of our own capacity to wonder and imagine a better world rather than the cynical and chaotic one in which we now live.

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