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Finding Neverland

Released: 2004

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 1 hr 41 min

MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Radha Mitchell, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman

The story of how J.M. Barrie created the character of Peter Pan.

A light and touching spectacle.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

Marc Forster’s fancifully wide-eyed biopic stars Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the eccentric Scottish playwright who first created Peter Pan on the stage in the early 1900s in London. When we first see him, Barrie is peaking behind the curtains, waiting for his latest uninspired play to fail. Inspiration comes in the form of the Davies family: widow Sylvia (Kate Winslet) and boys George, Jack, Michael and, of course, Peter (newcomer Freddie Highmore, in his first screen role).

The film is like a sexless redo of Shakespeare in Love. When Forster focuses on evocative visuals, like the scene where Barrie imagines the boys flying out of their bedroom window, Finding Neverland is a light and touching spectacle. But too much of its screen time is filled up with long, theatrical passages of dialogue. The screenplay, based on Alan Knee’s play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, tends to tell when it should show.

Depp displays a mischievous sense of fun opposite the kids. The performance spreads like an electrical current through the rest of the movie, spinning key moments – like when Barrie envisions the boys’ scolding old grandmother growing a hook for a hand – into the realm of enchantment. Depp does believe in fairies, and so we do too.