Johnny Depp takes us by the hand and in the gentlest most reassuring way leads into the heart, soul and mind of an artist. How easy is for the world to judge. How frightened we still are of all we don't understand. The very nature of innocence is suspect because innocence belongs exclusively to the innocent. Every time the world claims to protect it, tends to destroy it. "Finding Nerverland" is filled with moments of enlightenment. Moving and powerful moments but none more so than Julie Christie's face as she applauds, converted to the fantasy transported into her daughter's house. The moment and the enlightenment are short lived, but, somehow, remains in my mind as a glimmer of hope. If for a moment she accepts the mystery of it all, maybe we all could. Johnny Depp is the best American actor of his generation, period. Kate Winslet is a stunning rarity among her contemporaries. She doesn't look like anybody else and the camera catches every tiny little thought that crosses her marvelous face. Congratulations Mr. Forster you can count on me from this moment on as a devoted fan.
I am not a film critic by any means, and don't aim to pose as one. That being said, I felt that this movie was by far one of the most touching and entertaining movies I have seen in my short 22 years. The cast is fabulous, every actor plays his/her part so to speak. The story centers around J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, and his journey to writing the well-known play. It highlights his genius, while also showing the painful isolation that comes with being a mind ahead of your time. There are some liberties taken when put against the actual events that led up to the birth of Peter Pan, but don't let this dissuade you from watching--"Finding Neverland" was never slated as being a documentary! Being a huge Johnny Depp fan, one would think that my judgment would be tainted by his involvement in the film. However, even I can admit to a failed Depp movie (i.e. The Secret Window). At first, I thought that putting Depp outside of his usual character type, a mildly strange pirate/writer/doctor/investigator/man with scissors for hands, might signify a substandard film. Boy was I wrong! He nailed J.M. Barrie and was absolutely captivating throughout the entire film. I hate to sound like a starry-eyed fan but I thought his performance in this movie was downright Oscar-worthy! Depp is magnificent, but he does not carry the weight of this film on his own. A slue of other fine actors and actresses, Kate Winslet and Freddy Highmore just to name a few, give absolutely divine performances. Do yourself a favor, shell out the eight bucks and go see this movie!
I don't know how good this movie is and I don't care because I loved it. It left me kind of numb. Moved, transported, enchanted. That's exactly how I want to feel when I get out of a movie. "Finding Neverland" gave it to me, in spades. Johnny Depp, hey Johnny you're the best we've got. I forgot that it was you two minutes into the movie, I only knew I loved that character. That in itself is part of the many miracles the movie has in store. Yours, is a performance of perfect beauty. Kate Winslet is quickly becoming my favourite actress. Julie Christie is, was and always will be my "Darling" but Freddie Highmore, you and your brothers gave me one the best evenings in a movie theatre I had in a long, long, time. My girlfriend just read my comment over my shoulder, her comment was very succinct: "You write like a woman" Okay, let's see if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Good night kids.
The real J.M. Barrie was influenced and inspired as a child in Scotland by the adventurous stories of Robert Louis Stevenson of pirates, Indians and kidnapped boys. As a young journalist in London in the peak years of the Gilded Age his vivid imagination took him from novels to stage-plays. Barrie loved games and founded a cricket club with fellow writers Arthur Conan Doyle and P.G. Wodehouse. An old nugget describing his personality tells of his comments upon himself and others that often appeared in the newspapers. He once remarked to H.G. Wells, "It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?" It was in the very early years of the 20th Century, now 101 years ago and the same year that in the windy Outer Banks of North Carolina that the Wright Brothers took flight that Jamie Barrie's Peter Pan soared into the air on wires in the London stage. Marc Forester's fascinating film biography adapted by David Magee from Allan Knee's play, "The Man Who Was Peter Pan," now comes to us in this delightful, moving account, 'Finding Neverland.' It presents historical reality between lushly imagined expeditions to a fictitious Neverland. It's performed impeccably by Johnny Depp as Sir James Mathew Barrie and an extraordinary cast under the able direction of Marc Forster.This is the loveliest film of the year, highly recommended. Bring Kleenex for the final scenes and see how difficult it is to leave the theater and return to today.
I always tell my students that they can't claim a movie they just saw as their favorite movie ever because it has yet to stand the test of time. Every now and then a movie comes along that defies that rule for me -- a movie that as soon as I finish seeing it I know that it is an instant classic, if not "my favorite movie ever." American Beauty was such a movie.Finding Neverland is such a movie. Every minute of this movie was simply incredible -- I felt like the kids in the theater on the opening night of Peter Pan. Johnny Depp is absolutely astounding, as he usually is, as JM Barrie. The rest of the adult cast doesn't quite come up to his level, but are uniformly strong. The kids, especially Peter and Michael, are wonderful. Maybe I just love the British accent, but one of my favorite scenes comes very early when Barrie meets Michael in the park -- Michael's accent reminded me so much of the kid in The Little Prince!What raises this movie above standard fare, though, are the clever entries into Barrie's imagination. The magical moments in this movie seem to literally jump off the screen. Without a doubt, a film worthy of Oscar nominations for Depp, screenplay adaptation, cinematography (the pirate ship scene is gorgeous), and best movie of the year. Treat yourself - despite the PG rating, this is NOT a movie just for kids -- believe... 10/10
Every holiday season Harvey Weinstein and Miramax talk up one of their properties, fully expecting everyone to bow and throw awards at it as soon as it's released. This year it's Finding Neverland, which has produced a lot of buzz in favor of Johnny Depp's sophisticated performance. Although the film deserves all the praise it gets, it is understandable that moviegoers are a little weary with another dramatic period piece, with another "oscar caliber" cast, about yet another take on Peter Pan.The bottom line is, this movie is phenomenal. Exploring the major theme of Barrie's play (that of a boy who never grows up), Finding Neverland refrains from condemning grown-ups, but exalts the wild magic one can enjoy as a kid. For James, who had to deal with his family's reticence upon the death of his brother, the real tragedy occurs when a child is forced to grow up too fast. My favorite idea from this film is this: life finds a way to put into our lives the people we're supposed to be living our lives with. James and Sylvia needed each other, and they needed each other at that particular time. Life took care of them.The film does indeed move at a snail's pace. Consider that part of the set design. Just as the characters go about 1905 London in top hats and buttoned-down gowns, so does the movie develop in a manner which would have been fitting for a time which preceded MTV-generation attention spans by about a hundred years.As for the acting, it is wonderful. Depp is understated and gallant, Kate Winslet is lovely and tragic, and they're both better than I've ever seen them. Julie Christie is brutally ominous as the matriarch who can gum up everyone's happiness. Dustin Hoffman, although out of place, brings a dry wit as a risk-taking businessman. The boys playing the Davis kids are a lot of fun to watch and play their dramatic parts perfectly.If you want something where all the pieces of the magic puzzle that is movie-making come together with grace, charm, and humanity, you won't find a more rewarding film than this.
Finding Neverland is one of the best films I have seen all year. Depp and Winslet are superb and their supporting cast is very strong in particular Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman and Freddie Highmore. Forster's direction is tight and he maintains a story which had the potential to drag. Depp delivers a performance that is truly believable and he interacts with his co-stars well, in particular, Freddie Highmore who delivers a performance that outshines Depp's. It is a tour de force of acting talent. Clearly Highmore has a great career ahead of him. 9/10 for a superb piece of film-making, made diligently but, unfortunately, up against such strong contention, it had to make do with a disappointing award haul.
FINDING NEVERLAND is that rare work of art that transcends the medium of film and becomes a spirit-altering experience. Strong accolades? Gush? Perhaps so, but squeeze time out of the clutter of life and the holidays to see this movie and be transported to a place that nurturingly reassures us that the cycle of life is indeed good. Find Neverland!Marc Forster ('Monster Ball') has created a lovingly tender look at the playwright JM Barrie (Johnny Depp) in 1903 when, down on his luck with theater flops, unfulfilled by a marriage of Victorian standards to a beautiful but aloof and social climbing wife Mary (Radha Mitchell), and with writer's block, he encounters the Llewellyn Davies family - a widow Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and her four boys, George (Nick Roud), Jack (Joe Prospero), Michael (Luke Spill) and Peter (Freddie Highmore) - playing blissfully in Kensington Gardens. Barrie is captivated, draws the boys to him with his patient and infectious enthusiasm for play, and bonds with this family, gaining the obvious seeds for his highest achievement or creation, PETER PAN.How these seeds grow, despite the soft, yet supportive, growling of his producer Charles Frohman (Dustin Hoffman) and the not so soft interference of Sylvia's wealthy haughty mother Madame du Maurier (Julie Christie), form the storyline of this film. The magic comes from the skill of the writers (Alan Knee and David Magee) and director, the cinematographer (never has Victorian London glowed with such elegant gaslight presence), and the musical score by Jan Kaczmarek. Cameo roles are treated with tremendous respect: Eileen Essel as Mrs. Snow, Ian Hart as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Kelly MacDonald as the first Peter Pan, etc all are brief but fully realized and poignant. Given this support it is obvious that the talents of the lead performers will shine, and they glow they do with such understated performances that make the simple story of the sanctity of the inner child so cogent that there is not a dry eye in the house during the thankfully long credits. Johnny Depp continues to prove that he is one of the finest actors on the screen today: his Barrie has a flawless Scottish accent and a manner of movement and facial expressions that make him a gentle hero. Kate Winslet, never more beautiful, likewise embodies Sylvia with exactly the right amount of perk and pathos, and as her mother, Julie Christie is strikingly beautiful and unfailingly solid in a role less than loving. The boys are artfully recreated, never absurdly over the top, always very close to the bridge that crosses the craggy canyon between childhood and adulthood. Growing up has never been better portrayed - by all of the characters!In a time when too often films that address magic and imagination rely on computer effects to create creatures that are comic book absurd, FINDING NEVERLAND relies on simply showing the stage mechanics of the play, suspending wires and all, even in the climax of the story when Barrie brings his successful play to the living room of the ill Sylvia in order to keep his promise to her to take her to Neverland. No gimmicks here, just solid stagecraft very much in keeping with the inherent magic of Barrie's enduring play. This is a brilliant cinematic accomplishment - a feast for the eyes, the ears, the brain, and the soul. Please don't miss it! Grady Harp, November 2004
I don't cry at movies. No eyes welling up . . as a rule. Okay, I cried during Henry V (the Kenneth Branagh version) when the French army slaughtered all the pages in the English camp. I don't even tend to care for movies that might make me cry. I spend my hard earned big screen cash on movies with big effects or epic vistas ( think The Matrix or The Lords Of the Ring) Finding Neverland was a glorious exception. Beautifully acted, sweet but not syrupy and perfect for a break from all the holiday madness, Finding Neverland was a true gem. I don't believe its for as young of a crowd as I watched it with ( the 4 year old beside me was constantly needing plot clarification from her mother) but both my 47 year old husband & my 32 year old self were enchanted! In this jaded day & age it was a relief to see a movie that had romance without overt sexuality, a PLOT , and true emotion without sentimentality. And where did they find these child actors? Luke Spill, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud and especially Freddie Highmore were excellent. Rarely have I seen children perform on screen so realistically and charmingly. I'm sure they'll all have brilliant futures if they chose to stay in the business.I would say something here about Johnny Depp but what is there to say? Besides, I'm biased- I've never seen a Johnny Depp movie I didn't like, & I'm sure I've seen every one! Julie Christie was a powerhouse playing a difficult character in the most likable way. Don't let this movie slip under your radar! Finding Neverland will warm your heart without your having to turn off your brain. By the way, if you have a soul, take some tissues to use at the movies end.
I had heard that this was merely a "chick flick." Hey, my wife is the one who wanted to go see it. As it turned out, I went with three other guys, and we all loved it.Some movies entertain; some teach; some open up new worlds. This movie opened up new worlds. With each passing scene, carefully woven from the previous ones, it was like crossing yet another threshold into another world. The story unfolded deeper and deeper with each new scene, each layer adding not to complexity (the story is rather simple), but to the depth. Depp and the others (esp. the young actor who played Peter) easily lead the audience deeper and deeper into the paths of authenticity, healing, love, friendship and the triumph of inner strength. The other characters, likewise, garnish the central story excellently.The only flaw I saw is, I'm sure, a matter of taste and perspective; I felt the grandmother was simply too two-dimensional and not as believable as she should have been, though she, too, had some beautiful moments that truly added to the film.Having much experience with divorce (being a divorce attorney) I found the unfortunate relationship between Depp's character and his wife believable to a tee: two people deeply in love with each other yet more committed to personal pursuits than tending the difficult relationship we call marriage. Ironically, though Depp's character ultimately became the main caretaker of the four boys, by following the tender feelings of his heart, he allowed his marriage to evaporate by not following the other tender feelings of his heart.Nearly perfect. I give it a 9 out of 10.
I am not one to warm up to movies centered around themes such as this film. This is not because the idea of adults finding their inner child is ridiculous or immature to me. Its a result of films facing that theme also face a very big challenge on managing to correctly portray a transformation of an adult by children. Also if it actually extremely benefits the adult character in many profound ways. Most of the times films never succeed at this and are done so irresponsibly promoting dangerous styles of living that could be just as hurtful to others around us. Now the major question that is posed then, is why does this film succeed where others do not? What makes this film so precise yet so open? With Johnny Depp as the lead character, James Matthew Barrie, you know he will be ideal for the role of someone inspired by creativity considering the unique feeling Depp can bring to any film. At the outset of the Finding Neverland, Depp's character is in dire straits to not only find himself as a writer but flat out just find himself. Eventually he does succeed at both through the help of three children he befriends whose mother, played by Kate Winslet, is ill. Depp discovers what he had long been missing, imagination and open mindedness. The children bring him that which is throughout is so wonderfully conveyed. His new lifestyle in no way endangers the people around him rather it enables his decisions to be more enlightened and thought out. Yet it still brings him into question. The cast is filled with talent ranging from of course Depp and Winslet as well to Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman. What the cast does not just play their characters, their characters are embodied by them all the way down to the performances of the kids.Marc Foster takes on this challenge of an adult searching for himself with complete success. The writing and dialog is always engaging as well as the music and all the other technical aspects that go into making a movie. Still, remains the question what sets this film apart from others that attempted to be like it? Unlike other films this film is centered around youth equaling imagination and creativity. Not always is it a must to abide by the rules, maybe not the rule of law but the unwritten rules of being an adult, being a writer or any other sort of unwritten or written rule relating to anything. Nonetheless this must be done at a responsible and safe level which this film never fails to display. These rules can limit our creativity which limits the capabilities of our mind and ultimately drastically decreases the chances at happiness on any pure or genuine level.Too often is youth simply associated with fun, stupidity and meaningless entertainment. It never falls into that trap. What this film shows is that we make meaning of our lives and this should start from our youth but not dissolve as our lives become further complex and self contradictory. Depp shows with his reclaimed youthfulness his life can only go up as does his happiness yet this is unjustifiably rejected by "responsible", "sensible" and "mature" adults. Depp's characters knows they are wrong through his writing and newfound appreciation of life but more importantly the people close to Depp know it and can see it to be true. In this way though, Finding Neverland may give us the key clue on how to find ourself.