Sunday, December 26, 2004

Finding Neverland

Every fine movie has its moments of brilliance that strikes the audience and define the entire movie watching experience.

In Finding Neverland, it comes near the end as Kate Winslet's Sylvia lay dying, the play, inpired by her children, is performed right in her own living room. No eyes were dry during these ten extraordinary minutes.

Finding Neverland is a magical film about childhood and the insolent stubbornness of some adults in trying to discredit the lovely memories of how recklessly fun and carelessly exciting it is to be a child and instead live in drab and boring lives.

Johnny Depp is ebullient as J.M. Barrie, the famed playwright whose masterful work on Peter Pan made him a byword in children's literature. But many people who have watched countless incarnations of this delightful tale about the boy who refuses to grow up did not actually realize that it was based on a real child named Peter who, ironically, stopped believing in the whimsical joy of childhood after his father unexpectedly dies and his mother has taken ill.

This is director Marc Foster's follow-up to his 2002 dark film "Monster's Ball". The film is an elegant piece of filmmaking with incredibly great visualization that cleverly captures the rich imagination of writer Barrie and transports the audience through a fantastical ride to that place where children never grow up, Neverland.

As good a movie is however, there are instances when i felt it to be too slow for comfort. And the conflict between Barrie and his wife was presented as a matter of fact but not really fully explained. Yeah, there was a small confrontation between the couple but it didn't reveal much anything at all.

Depp clearly labored hard in coming up with his characterization and it was evident in his stirring performance, but his accent felt a little too artificial. Actors who do accents are only great when the accents help enliven their characters just like in the case of Cate Blanchett in "The Aviator" who does an extremely magnificent Katharine Hepburn - or for that matter any Meryl Streep performances from several movie seasons ago.

Kate Winslet, however, astound the viewer once again with her heartfelt performance of a suffering widow caring for her four children and pretending to be well when she was actually dying.

The film, notwithstanding its minor flaws, remain an entertaining and inspiring work.

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