Review: Finding Neverland (2004)

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It’s a wonderful world of imagination and fancy!

Screenplay By: David Magee
Directed By: Marc Forster

Those who are acquainted with me or have been privy to some of my previous writing know how much I loathe the death of imagination in the world. Every day around us imagination suffers a slow and agonizing death through the bludgeoning force of adulthood. If you are someone who is above the age of 14 and reads comic books or makes up fantasy tales in your head then there is clearly something wrong with you. The world has turned into a place where everyone is expected to grow up and become so much of an adult that they don’t allow time for what amused them as a child. I don’t believe life should be that way, I believe we should be a world full of dreamers. The world should be shaped by those who dare to live in the land of their mind, to think like a child even as they grow older. No film better encapsulates my feelings on the matter than Finding Neverland.

All around him Mr. Barrie is shunted and viewed as an oddball because he dares to dream. He has the audacity to use his imagination when he is an adult. He is a flighty person, such is the way of many talented artists. He views the world with a childlike wonder and because of that he is able to acutely understand the world better than others who allow the limitations of adulthood to hinder their view. Finding Neverland exists in the imagination, in flights of fancy, in whimsical settings. No shot better understands this than when after another night of leaving at odds Mrs. Barrie enters into her plain room while Mr. Barrie enters into a room that is the forest of his imagination.

Johnny Depp has always impressed me and Finding Neverland is no different. He is a child, he is wonderful to watch as he examines every scene from the perspective that a child would, albeit a child with a bit more understanding of the world and of how powerful his imagination can be. Mr. Depp’s performance rings true the fact that “just” is such a bad word, that it demeans and defeats all those it is imbued upon. Mr. Depp will never be “just” anything, and it shows in his varied performances. Much like Johnny Depp I have always been a fan of Kate Winslet, she is willing to take on numerous roles that require a variety of different approaches. In Finding Neverland she takes a simple and quiet role and makes Mary matter. You feel the love she has for her kids, the love she gains from Mr. Barrie and the pain she hides so that her kids don’t see it.

This is the second Marc Forster film I have seen, the other was Stranger Than Fiction, and he has already impressed me as a very talented director. He has a knack for visual diversity and for how to get to the heart of a scene without being exploitative. Finding Neverland is a terrific film that deals with imagination and love and deals with both in a very adult like manner. But, it never loses sight of its childish nature, and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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