Directed by Marc Foster, ‘Finding Neverland’ tells the story of playwright James M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to write the famous play Peter Pan.
From the very beginning of the film, the audience will be enchanted by Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the famous playwright. They will be swept away by as the film delves into the mind of James M. Barrie – a mind that is filled with talking whales, ticking crocodiles and mermaids.
But the movie is not a mere fairytale. After all, it is based on real life. It gives you a taste of James M. Barrie’s childhood and shares with you the tragic tale of the Llewelyn-Davies family.
At first, we find that Barrie has suddenly encountered writer’s block. His latest play was a disaster and he must come up with a new play that will please the Victorian Londoners. But soon he meets Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies (Kate Winslet) and he finds that his luck is changing. Enchanted by the widow and her five sons, Barrie begins to spend more time with the family, much to the despair of his wife, Mary (Radha Mitchell).
Barrie plays role-play games with the boys – Pirates, Cowboys and Indians. Peter, one of the boys, however, is and traumatised by his father’s untimely death, is desperately trying to escape from his pain of the lose and so, tries to grow up too fast and refuses to participates in the games. Barrie attempts to draw Peter out of his shell, but although he tries, real life gets in the way and despite his best efforts, Sylvia is taken by illness and there’s nothing that he can do to protect the boys that have become like family to him of the inevitable: Sylvia’s death.
During this movie, which takes place in one summer, James M. Barrie is diligently writing of the adventures that he has had from the boys, from the games to helping the youngest, Michael, to fly a kite. But unfortunately, all is not well for Barrie. Not everyone is confident that his play idea, Peter Pan, will be accepted by the Victorians. His relationship with his wife is also on the rocks.
The movie ends on a bitter note, just as it started. But despite this, the journey that ‘Finding Neverland’ tells is magnificent, telling us of the power of imagination and that to the very end, one must not give up not only on hope, but also on themselves. Rather, that all they have to do is "just believe".
Technically, ‘Finding Neverland’ is excellent. The use of camera-work, music and symbolism, accompanied by a well-written script makes the movie exceptional and a joy not only to watch, but also to analyse and tear into. There’s no doubt that everyone will enjoy ‘Finding Neverland’. Children will be taken by the incredible imagination and imagery used in the film and adults will be entranced by the magic in the story.
I recommend ‘Finding Neverland’ to all. It’s a wonderful portrayal of an inspiring man who had a large life and even larger imagination.