Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Finding Neverland 

A truly wonderful movie. Full of wonder, awe, joy, grief, failure, triumph, regret, hope, and above all, imagination.

Johnny Depp is full of quiet understated joy and energy as J.M. Barrie, the Scottish playwright who created Peter Pan. Kate Winslett is Sylvia, the widowed mother of four sons, who through a chance meeting in the park one afternoon finds herself and her children experiencing life as they hadn't been able since the death of her husband. Radha Mitchell (photo editor Syd from the fabulous High Art) is perfect as Mary the socially ambitious wife of Barrie. She seems as determined to quash any glimmer of whimsy as her husband is of encouraging that glimmer to grow wings. Julie Christie is perfectly proper as Sylvia's mother and the social pillar that Mary would love nothing better than to emulate. Dustin Hoffman returns to the world of Neverland (remember him as the titular Hook, opposite Robin Williams?) as the patient but not endlessly patient producer of Barrie's plays.

The characters could have been overplayed or one-sided, but instead they are all subtle and multifaceted, and all demonstrate the capacity to grow in many directions. The blend of reality and imagined scenes draws you in and make you wish to be a part of the game. The soundtrack is sublime, and lifts the film even higher than it would have been otherwise.

Go see this movie, and see it on the big screen. Then pick up the DVD when it comes out next year, so you can enjoy it whenever you need to reinvigorate your love of life.

Reality Check: The Girl's unprompted comment upon leaving the theater: "That was the best movie I've ever seen."
UPDATE (10:40 am): It's official. The Girl has now proclaimed that Finding Neverland has replaced Jerry Maguire as her all-time favorite movie.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:59 AM