May 29, 2007

[Movies] Finding Neverland

Finding NeverlandPeter Pan is one of those classic tales of childhood that you just have to know to some extent, even if only through the Disney cartoon adaptation of the children's book. Seriously, a story about a boy who will never grow up, who has adventures in a magical land full of pirates, indians, mermaids and fairies? What more could any child ask for?

But Finding Neverland is just some whimsical update of the children's story but instead is a closer look at the man who made a little boy fly, fight and crow.

This movie was definitely nominated for 7 Oscars (and won one) for a reason. It's a beautiful piece that manages to tell a fantastic story that doesn't involve magical lands or outrageous tales but instead the imagination and conviction and imagination of just one man - Sir James Matthew Barrie.

Before people start jumping in and citing the darker stories that surround Barrie's involvement with the Llewelyn Davies family, one has to remember that the larger focus of this piece is not Barrie's entire life but merely the events that lead to the creation of the story of Peter Pan. While it may seem somewhat callous for me to limit our discussions to this period of his life, that's precisely what the movie is about. It's not there to make speculations about his intentions of everything that happened afterwards but merely to tell a good story. Through the movie we see how Barrie's real life experiences became the primary basis for Pan story despite how fantastical and surreal the world of Neverland is.

Of course who better to act as the often serious but highly imaginative Barrie than Johnny Depp, who I must admit is one of my favorite actors. He certainly has a penchant for movies of such ironic seriousness and whimsy and he manages his part very well. His acting is quite superb and he truly carries the story along gracefully. Kate Winslet was okay, although not terribly impressive. I felt she could have done more with the piece since it had her acting like how she always does in pretty much every period piece she participates in.

This remains to be a great movie and something everyone should go out to see at least once in their lives, although for now such opportunities are limited to DVDs and cable television.

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