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Finding Neverland (2004)

J.M. Barries Neverland

Unlock your imagination.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 106 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Everyone knows the tale of ‘Peter Pan’. Whether you’re familiar with it from stage or screen (there have been plenty of versions of both), you’ll know all about the adventures of Peter, Tinkerbell, Wendy and those dastardly kiddy-hating pirates. But what of J.M. Barrie, the man who dreamt the whole thing up? What’s his story? Well, now’s your chance to find out – and it’s not a chance to be missed.

Adapted from the play by Allan Knee and screenwriting of David Magee, director Marc Forster brings us the captivating account of a literary great who truly believed that, with a little imagination, anything is possible. And who better to bring this wondrous dreamer to life than Johnny Depp?

Set in London in 1903, it’s the story of how Barrie, in the face of a crumbling marriage to wife Mary (Radha Mitchell), found joy and inspiration in the company of the children of another woman (Kate Winslet). While spending his every afternoon playing and inventing new games with the sprogs (among them Freddie Highmore, who’ll be back on screen with Depp in 2005’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’), he’s moved to write the play that will see his name go down in literary history: ‘Peter Pan’.

I always look forward to Johnny Depp movies. Even when they’re not any good (the downright-rubbish ‘Once Upon A Time In Mexico’ as a glaringly obvious example), his talent always shines through. ‘Finding Neverland’, though, is better than good – it’s delightful. The story manages to achieve the tricky feat of being touching without straying into schmaltz, and some of the visuals are frankly breathtaking. When Barrie’s imagination comes to life on-screen it’s part theatre prop, part special effect, and it creates a striking effect completely unlike anything else I’ve seen in live action film. As for Depp himself, he proves yet again that he’s the finest and most versatile actor of his generation. Adopting an unswervingly accurate Scottish accent (are you watching, Mel Gibson?), he seems as at home with this quiet, withdrawn performance as he was with his showy theatrical display in last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

It's Got: Winslet back on a boat. You’d think she’d have learned her lesson last time.

It Needs: To never grow up.


Discover the power of imagination with this enchanting tale of the original boy who never grew up.