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Overall Rating
3.96

Awesome38.71%
Worth A Look: 36.02%
Just Average: 13.98%
Pretty Crappy: 4.84%
Sucks: 6.45%

14 reviews, 102 user ratings


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Finding Neverland
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by EricDSnider

"A perfectly sweet, lovely movie."
5 stars

I know just enough about the life of "Peter Pan" author J.M. Barrie to know that "Finding Neverland" has taken some liberties with the facts. But I know enough about movies to know that I don't care. The film's loveliness has nothing to do with whether its events are true.

It was directed by Marc Forster, whose last work, "Monster's Ball," wouldn't have made me suspect he was capable of such sweet, imaginative fare as this. The film is set in strictest reality, but it has magic glittering in the corners -- which, as it happens, is exactly the way J.M. Barrie lived his life.

Barrie is played with astonishing perfection by Johnny Depp, who at this rate is going to become the best actor of his generation whether he wants the attention or not. Depp has long excelled at playing characters who are odd, outcast or strange, always giving them humanity, too, but I don't think I've ever seen him combine quirkiness and soulfulness as well as he does here. J.M. Barrie comes across as unusual, for sure, but with emotions and passions that are universal.

The time is 1903, when Barrie's latest play, "Little Mary," has flopped on London's West End. He has been spectacularly successful in the past, and his bank account proves it, but he is now in a creative slump. He spends most days sitting on a park bench with his large sheep dog, doodling, jotting and thinking, off in his own world.

It is at the park that he meets Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), a young widow with four boys. They are immediately smitten with Barrie's stories and extremely active imagination; Barrie, for his part, seems to relate better to children than to adults.

The only boy not impressed with Barrie is young Peter (Freddie Highmore). He has taken the death of his father harder than anyone else, it seems, and he remains sullen, a child trying to act like a grownup. He and Barrie are opposites. Barrie is inspired to write a play expressing his own fondest dream: It's about a boy who gets to stay young forever.

Barrie's personal life is a shambles, it need hardly be said. He spends all his time with the Davies family -- not courting Sylvia, and certainly not behaving inappropriately with the children (he seems far too innocent, perhaps even asexual, to even consider such a thing), but simply playing and imagining. His wife Mary (Radha Mitchell) wants the social status that usually comes with money, but her husband is bored with snooty parties and finds adults in general to be dull. Mary doesn't understand Mr. Barrie's attachment to the Davieses, and neither does Sylvia's mother (Julie Christie), whose actions at the end of the film give it its unfortunate too-easy resolution.

Barrie may have been born at exactly the right time. Edward VII was the king in 1907, but it was still the "Victorian Era" as far as society was concerned: stuffy, repressed and puritanical. Children were scarcely permitted to have fun at all, and so here comes J.M. Barrie -- an adult with money and influence -- to set them free and show them how childhood is supposed to be.

The film, adapted by David Magee from Allan Knee's play, captures this attitude wonderfully. Several whimsical scene depict Barrie and the boys' improvised adventure stories, included as if to prove the point that when you're a child, few things have the power to uplift and heal like good old-fashioned fun. It's pretty effective for adults, too.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10919&reviewer=247
originally posted: 11/24/04 02:01:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Leeds Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Leeds Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/18/09 Liberty Man Great story and Depp as he should be. Enough with the pirate already. 5 stars
10/05/09 Bryony An amazing film I cry everytime lol Kate & Johnny both did an AMAZING job I love it!!! 5 stars
12/11/08 charles surmion its so cool i want to try and try... 4 stars
9/25/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT TUGS AT THE HEARTSTRINGS LIKE A TOE-FINGERED HARPIST 1 stars
5/08/08 Courtney This movie is corny, boring and has expected 'twists' 1 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP Johnny and Kate Winslet were amazing as always, and it was super sad at the end. 5 stars
9/04/07 John Just amazing 5 stars
8/11/07 Tiffany Losco Boring, I didn't like it. 2 stars
5/16/07 mia It was a sad story that contains inspiring messages 5 stars
1/15/07 jeannie karlsen Looking at Johnny Depp was enough of a reward, plot was however, boring 4 stars
11/10/06 Bill Hi all 4 stars
9/07/06 Thomas Semesky FINDING NEVERLAND! Fine me a plot first. Boring!! 2 stars
7/13/06 EZ To bad there is no 0 stars rating 1 stars
6/11/06 Dave Webber I thought this was totally maudlin and manupulative, 2 stars
5/21/06 Diane P very charming, my daughter enjoyed it as well 4 stars
5/05/06 Ashley Hinz I don't like Johnny Depp, but I enjoyed this. 4 stars
2/09/06 Samantha A nice twist for adults on the classic story, while children might find it boring 4 stars
10/14/05 Yves Caraan I didnt enjoy watching 2 stars
10/11/05 Jennifer Free You would think that it was for kids, but they were totally bored, and so was I. 3 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes perfect filmmaking at its finest 5 stars
9/14/05 Koopy the Loopy I love Kate, but this was a little too boring 3 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Two of the boys he helped raise committed suicide...the movie is a sappy and demented. 1 stars
8/25/05 EZ Let's go make make the worst play ever while talking with the worst accent possilbe 1 stars
8/19/05 Sara B. Slow to get going, at times oddly NOT engaging. Still has charm for Depp fans. 4 stars
8/12/05 yuko brilliant actors and story 5 stars
7/26/05 Laura Lee Macleod Kinda boring...but Depp is a magnificent actor 3 stars
6/17/05 Andy Far better than the professional critics suggest. Switch off the analysis, let it happen 4 stars
6/16/05 DM Sappy in places but very well-acted. 4 stars
5/28/05 Jake Good film but not oscar worthy 4 stars
5/21/05 Cham Great acting, pretty moving, way too sappy for words. 3 stars
5/05/05 Kristi Achilleos very good movie! pleasant to watch :) 4 stars
4/30/05 Steve Newman Absolutely excellent. Some moments makes you feel uneasy - awesome 5 stars
4/29/05 Charlie Crappy ending, but an interesting plot and story. 3 stars
4/28/05 kathleen4691 A great family film...for parents who want their kids to learn about extramarital affairs. 2 stars
4/22/05 Kim Great fantasy. 4 stars
4/19/05 Sharon Fernando Excellent glimpse into Peter Pan's inspiration. 4 stars
4/16/05 David Siegel Better than the professional reviews. A good background "study". 4 stars
4/08/05 Denise wonderful 5 stars
4/04/05 killbill03 If you can buy into it, you may really like it. 4 stars
3/28/05 Charlene Javier Gets better after repeated viewings... 5 stars
3/27/05 Emma Excellent, one of my favourite films. 5 stars
2/19/05 lj wouldn't see it twice 3 stars
2/18/05 Captain Craig I didnt think truly great film could be made anymore. Every aspect was suberb! 5 stars
2/15/05 Melody Arneil One of the few films of 2004 that moved me to tears. LOVED IT! 5 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Great movie, definite must see for a Peter Pan fan! 4 stars
2/10/05 H.P. Lovecraft I expected a little bit more for a best picture nominee. 3 stars
2/05/05 axe Like "Pan", better experienced in an audience with children. 4 stars
2/04/05 Melissa Johnny Depp - couldn't have been better! 5 stars
2/04/05 Ann Klonicki Johnny Depp is superb 5 stars
2/03/05 Mirella Rodriguez Who doesn't love Johnny? Great movie, great acting. 4 stars
2/03/05 craig varney can't find a better recent movie 5 stars
2/03/05 Debbi Kalstein interesting interpretation 5 stars
2/02/05 Clifford C Gardner Not great, but worth your time 4 stars
1/31/05 Danita Berg Beautiful....brought tears to my eyes. 4 stars
1/31/05 Gladys Paradowski Didn't achieve its objective, whatever that was. 2 stars
1/31/05 Lynda Eby Love Johnny Depp! 4 stars
1/31/05 Elena this was nice but everything shown was just so obvious and not deep 4 stars
1/31/05 Alison Mosbeck I don't see how anyone could NOT like this...a very imaginative film 4 stars
1/29/05 Charlene Javier Completely magical! 5 stars
1/29/05 malcolm Depp was a little too understated, but the film was great 4 stars
1/29/05 Garnet Leib So-SO 3 stars
1/29/05 Marilyn not to exciting 3 stars
1/29/05 Fred Pellerito Even though I'm a big Johnny Depp fan, this movie was nothing more than average 3 stars
1/29/05 Lisa Clarizio Johnny Depp's an excellent actor but just mediocre in this movie 2 stars
1/27/05 Roz How good is Johnny Depp?!! Charming story, great supporting cast, excellent art direction. 5 stars
1/26/05 Richard R. Lowe Better than awesome. Absolutely brilliant. 5 stars
1/15/05 Jamy I LOVE JOHNNY DEPP! He is a great actor and awsomeinseration to me in alll of his movies. 5 stars
1/14/05 green gremlin a superior "Shadowlands". Johnny Depp was simply awesome 5 stars
1/11/05 Heather Take some Kleenex 5 stars
1/09/05 KCobain A real treasure. Very powerful and emotional. 5 stars
1/05/05 Elizaveta A little too much like "Shadowlands." Still, its good but not great. 3 stars
1/05/05 Helen Bradley Poor editing too slow paced great stars failed by bad script too long 2 stars
12/29/04 The Mockingbird perhaps only too sweet for this cynical world. Wonderful acting all around 4 stars
12/26/04 efrain great movie. one of the best of 2004 5 stars
12/26/04 Suzz very fine acting; interesting storytelling 4 stars
12/13/04 A F Beautiful Film. Almost had some tears. 5 stars
12/08/04 Judy This film thrilled and moved me by its emotional honesty. 5 stars
12/07/04 Titus Nothing earth shattering, but a good (emotional) movie. 4 stars
12/05/04 Ron Cisco Moving, brought me to tears, the actor who plays 5 stars
12/03/04 Denise johnny rules 5 stars
11/26/04 Zohran Mamdani Amzing, brought me to tears! 5 stars
11/26/04 Destiny Pifer Wonderful movie! 5 stars
11/26/04 ajay good movie, but the ending went on about 10 minutes too long. 3 stars
11/26/04 Rudy Depp should have done more drugs in this film. 1 stars
11/24/04 Roger Yes, it's VERY good. 5 stars
11/24/04 T. Maj Conventional movie bio; Johnny Depp always worth watchoingnj 4 stars
11/23/04 Geoff Very good movie. Touching performances all around 4 stars
11/22/04 vagile Wonderful except for heavy handedness in last scene 5 stars
11/20/04 Kristina Williams You gotta love Johnny? 5 stars
11/19/04 kyla robertson Excellent movie. Johnny Depp is Amazing 5 stars
11/19/04 Tanaporn yes,it 's good 3 stars
11/18/04 matt wakeman Beautiful and tender. 4 stars
11/12/04 Paul Gaughan Absolutely fantastic ! I thought Winslett was brilliant as the Widow. Depp as good as ever 5 stars
11/11/04 Janet Wyatt Great drama lifted with flights of fancy. All the actors were superb. 4 stars
11/10/04 alex Disappointingly ordinary - clunky script and generally dull 2 stars
11/08/04 janyne mason i think it has a crap storyline, otherwise ok. 3 stars
11/07/04 Camdyn Nix Breath taking 5 stars
11/07/04 Emilia This film will be hailed alongside other Holiday Classics such as It's a Wonderful Life, et 5 stars
11/07/04 Karen Minton Terrific movie, Johnny Depp great 5 stars
11/07/04 Buffetblvd This film was magnificent - don't miss it!! 5 stars
11/02/04 Bronwen Johnny Depp is amazing. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Nov-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 22-Mar-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Jan-2005




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