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FINDING NEVERLAND, 2004
Movie Reviews!

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FINDING NEVERLANDFINDING NEVERLAND, 2004
Movie Review

Directed by Marc Forster
Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

The story of J.M. Barrie's friendship with a family who inspired him to create Peter Pan.

OSCAR WINNER for Best Musical Score

Nominated for 6 OSCARS: Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Picture

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REVIEW:

Finding Neverland is a film that I missed out on when it came out in 2004. At the time I didn't think it would be a movie I would of liked. But after watching all of director Marc Forster's work and liking all of his films (including Quantum of Solace, Stranger Than Fiction, Monster's Ball), this film was last on the list. And it also had Kate Winslet in it, who I consider as of this writing the best actor working in movies today. So I needed to see this film.

I enjoyed Finding Neverland a great deal. It's all about the themes of Peter Pan while being about the story of how the writer wrote Peter Pan.

We all need to be kids again from time to time and remember what that feeling was like. It's always good to go and play and be 10 years old again. Those moments in our life is when our true creativity comes out of us and we need to remember to always go back to that.

Johnny Depp really does an outstanding job handling the role of author James Barrie. Some would think this guy was a wanky Patch Adams type of person; someone who goes over the top to impress on everyone that he is indeed a man-child and dressing up as an Indian just for the heck of it is a good thing. But Depp plays him as a very serious guy who does go to his childhood roots with the 4 boys he forms a kinship with, but he does it in the most adult way.

James Barrie's impression of childhood is to let things play through. The best scene in the film is when Peter, the youngest of the four boys who is the main muse of the play Barrie writes (hence the title Peter Pan), throws a tantrum when he finds out his mom is sick. Peter begins to destroy things and tears apart his notebook with the first play he wrote in it. 99% of most parents or elders would stop the child, but not Barrie. He doesn't stop him at all, but just sits down in a chair and lets him do what he needs to do. Peter will calm down eventually and perhaps what he is doing is what's best for him.

That scene sums up Finding Neverland in a nutshell. We all need to go to Neverland from time to time and vent out our inner feelings and thoughts. The world is set up to attempt to take care of people's problems right away. The band-aid world as I like to call it. But perhaps we wouldn't have all of the scars if we didn't patch up the damage right away and just let our sores breath for a bit.

And that's James Barrie's process of writing. He goes into a situation and plays it out for awhile. He writes in a notebook all of his thoughts and feelings and then goes back to it later to build structure around it. You can say that the process of creativity has two levels to it. The first level is our childhood creativity. The premise level. We have fun and just let it all out on paper, on a canvas, on the stage.....whatever our creative occupation is. Then the second level is our adult creativity. The structure level. After we let it all out, now we have to do something with it. We need to raise our work into adulthood and build something concrete with it.

The heart of soul of Finding Neverland is the relationship between Barrie and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), the mother of the four boys. There is an immediate deep love between the two but that love must be dealt with without any action. Barrie is a married man and Sylvia a widow of four boys. This was a different time then and there was no way for these two to be together unless they gave up everything they worked for.

Nothing is ever said between the two or even implied but the performances of Depp and Winslet tells you everything you need to know. And that's great acting. Winslet is exceptional in Finding Neverland (but she always is!). A woman who has been through a lot and sees her own life coming to an end with her sickness. She is full of pride and wants no one to help her and sacrifices everything for her sons. These are emotional arcs that have been played many times before in past films, but Winslet finds a way to play it in a way never done before.

Finding Neverland is an adult film about being a child again. We are grown up but realize it's always good to go back to Neverland. Either you find Neverland or you don't in this film. And if you do, this is truly a remarkable film. It's subtle in its ways of making us feel. And it's the children in the film that show us the way.

I sometimes think that children have more to teach us than we have to teach them. It's always good for us to sit down and take in their actions instead of enforcing all the actions on them.

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