Finding Neverland - Magical Tale of A Playwright

                          The creation of art is almost as absorbing as the creation of inspiration in an artist. Have you ever wondered, what lies beyond the great works? Is it an writer's personal memoir mixed with his characters? or did the almighty blessed a writer with words? Some movies have found both humor and majesty in breaking down their subject's imaginations. Finding Neverland is one of those kind, which discusses the inspiration of a artist, and also discovers the true inspiration that really matters to all of us.

                     "Finding Neverland," is an flawlessly made and a genuinely emotional account of how Scottish author J.M. Barrie came to write "Peter Pan." Along with a stellar cast led by Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland will reduce many viewers to tears. The movie is a nice mixture of fantasy, drama,  romance, and tragedy, with no hints of some of the ugliness that marred the real J.M. Barrie's reputation.

        In 1903 London, theater-goers come to see the latest production by Scottish playwright J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp). The producer, Charles Frohman (Dustin Hoffman), has high hopes that it will be a big hit. But the playwright stays behind the stage by nervously eying the crowd through a side curtain with apprehensiveness. When the play starts, he sees the bad result in people's faces, including the worst sign of all, a man asleep. The American producer is still confident in Barry's abilities, but he has no support at home with wife Mary (Radha Mitchell)  who day-by-day is a little more withdrawn from their marriage.

               Combating with writer's block during a day in the park, he meets the Sylvia Llewelyn Davies family, a pretty widow (Kate Winslet) and her four young sons: Peter (Freddie Highmore), George (Nick Roud), Jack (Joe Prospero), and Michael (Luke Spill). He forms a quick friendship with the Davies family, and soon is viewed by the boys as a favorite uncle. Barrie's wife and Sylvia's high-society mother Du Maurier (Julie Christie) are suspicious about this new relationship.

              However, through the fantastical games of the boys in which they imagine they are cowboys and Indians or pirates on the high seas, Barrie finds the inspiration for his greatest leap of imagination, what would become Peter Pan.

                 Johnny Depp strikes a impeccable balance of recaptured adolescence and gravity. He plays Barrie with none of the idiosyncrasies that might have made him laughable or lovable. Depp's Barrie isn't an oddball or a eccentric guy, but nevertheless brings a lot of energy to the character. Kate Winslet vibrantly brings both  vulnerability and resilience to Sylvia, a woman whose early gifts in life are rapidly taken away. Winslet is direct and heartfelt in a recognizable human way. Dustin's Hoffman's producer Charles is more or less like a cameo role, but he brings a wry wit and a perplexed countenance to the role. Radha Mitchell finds both pride and pain as Barrie's emotionally forsaken wife. The standout among the boys is Freddie Highmore. He does a first-class job with the difficult part of a boy who is having trouble dealing with grief and its associated guilt.

                    Director Marc Forster blends well the movie's elements of light humor and unspoken emotion. He sneaks our tears up on us and does it more naturally. But Marc is a little clunky and dismissive with shadows that hang over Barrie's legacy, especially the persistent rumors about what motivated his interest in the young Davies boys. Although, what matters here is that, the movie does indeed capture with much delight the spirit that inspired "Peter Pan." David Magee, the first screen-writer, working from the aptly titled play The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee, readily deploys his own, finding the perfect embodiment of pure, unbridled imagination in J.M Barrie.

                    Finding Neverland is relentlessly optimistic, even when tragedy strikes, which is seen another opportunity for imagination, and bids hope against the crushing walls of cynicism. For  each and everyone of us, there is a Neverland where things have their own special charm and meaning, a place always accessible to those who believe. This, of course, is a profoundly spiritual message. We all might have a Peter Pan within us, who wants to come out and play. Indulge yourself with him, and you will find how deep this endearing movie has worked its way upon you.

                   Finding Neverland works on an emotional level, and remains inspirational for a patient viewer. 




Jayashree Srivatsan said...

Hi Arun

Your posts are so helpful in deciding what movies to watch...Keep up the good work :D

Unknown said...

A heartfelt insight into the film. I'm definitely gonna watch it today. Thanks a ton!

Anonymous said...

I will watch it and write a comment! :D

Vetirmagal said...

Lovely review of a superb movie Arun!

ArjunaUbacha said...

Another nice review. Nice movie with a good cast. I have liked all the roles of Kate Winslet.

Arun Kumar said...

@jaish_vats, Thanks for the comment. Keep visiting.

@Swati, Thanks for the comment.

Samik said...

one of my favourite movies of all times!!!! loved your review!!! complete and attractive!!