Finding Neverland is the story of how Barrie, played by Johnny Depp, wrote Peter Pan. After having a flop in with a recent play, he goes to the park to relax with his dog and maybe get some writing done. He invites his wife but she doesn’t want to go. Big mistake on her part, for in the park he gives his heart to another. No, not Kate Winslet, but the children of Winslet’s character, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. They use something most kids don’t know how to use these days – their imaginations. Barrie in turn writes Peter Pan to celebrate childhood and his.
The script could easily have derailed with sappiness but the mastery of Depp and Winslet never let it. Winslet’s character is sick, probably with consumption, which also claimed the life of her husband. Winslet’s character is brave and full of life and wants her kids to celebrate life even though they have only known death. Three of the children handle it fine, but Peter, played with fierce intelligence by Freddie Highmore, is tired of being treated as a child. He wants to be a grown up because he thinks that adults don’t feel as much as children. Barrie, who has his own childhood and adulthood scars, writes so he can heal and also so can the children.
Mr. Depp deserves all the praise he receives. Here he is sweet and tender to all around him, even his wife who has become just a companion. Depp, when in imagination mode, doesn’t need the beautiful special effects the film provides – you follow him there just by his acting. Winslet never solicits pity from the audience, but impresses with her bravery. The ever gorgeous Julie Christie plays a wonderfully icy mother to Winslet who is so worried about taking care of Winslet she does the complete opposite. All the children give good performances without relying on their cuteness.
The best way I can sum up this movie: The next time I watch Peter Pan, I will clap with all my might to save Tink.