Sunday, April 10, 2005

Finding Neverland (Miramax)

Once again, I am so glad to have listened to my father and watched this movie instead of going out. I do not recommend this movie to literal people, like my friend Jamie, as it takes imagination and 'looking beyond what is there' to get this film. It is a drama, a film genre which I like least apart from Sci-fi. But there is something 'special' about it. I cannot explain, but I would certainly love to watch this drama again... and again.

The film tells the story of of how J.M. Barrie (Sir James Matthew Barrie) came up with the famous children's classic "Peter Pan". Here is the story:

James' (Johnny Depp) last play was a disaster, but he is intent on writing a new and much better play. One day, while taking a stroll in the park with his Saint Bernard, Porthos, he meets the Llewelyn Davies family - four young fatherless boys, Michael, George, Jack and Peter, and their beautiful mother, Sylvia (Kate Winslet), recently widowed. In them, he finds the inspiration for his next play. He befriends the boys by playing along in their pretend-games and teaching them how to let their imagination wander. Against the wills of Sylvia's mother, Mrs. Emma du Maurier (Julie Christie), and his own wife's, he comes to the Davies' house everyday to play with the boys in their backyard, imagining they are pirates on board a ship in stormy weather, or in a town in dark Africa with cowboys and Indians. He turns sticks into swords, dogs into bears, kites into fairies. But soon the whole town is talking about him and the Davies family, which causes some rough waters in his marriage. "They say you spend more time at Mrs. Davies' than you do with your wife."
However, he continues his daily visits, gaining more inspiration every moment he spends with them. Slowly, he begins to write his play about his experience with this family, entitled "Peter Pan", after one of the boys. But as the days go by, Sylvia seems to grow weaker. She refuses to talk to anyone about it and claims it to be a mere chest cold and will not go to the hospital as the doctor ordered. *Warning: Spoiler* On the opening night of James' play, she collapses and only Peter turns up for the play. It is a huge success. James and Peter rush back and they surprise the weak Sylvia by bringing the play to her own home - the actors, the musicians, the props (only the play is performed on a smaller scale, of course). And in this way, James takes her to the place she has always wanted see. "That... is Neverland." Sadly, she passes on, leaving behind her four boys and her will, in which she states that they be in the care of their grandmother, and James. And thus, he takes on the role of the father they lost and teaches them still to believe... *End of spoiler*
"You can visit Neverland any time you like."
"How?"
"By believing, Peter. Just believe."

A wonderful story. Johnny Depp puts up an absolutely remarkable performance, throwing in a thick English accent. And I say that he looks best in this movie, simply gorgeous! And Kate Winslet, the most beautiful actress on my list (second comes Angelina Jolie followed by Kate Beckinsale). She is just wonderful in her role and I do love the producers for casting her beside Johnny Depp. They make such a pair on screen! But I am slightly disappointed about the story though.
I was looking forward to a bit of a love story emerging between James and Sylvia, mainly because I wanted to see how Depp and Winslet would do it. Oh, but drat! Although there is a love which emerges, it isn't really 'concentrated on'. Like, the only words from Sylvia which I am sure expresses her feelings for James are: "You've come to mean so much to us all that now, it doesn't matter if it's true. And even if it isn't true, even if that can never be... I need to go on pretending... until the end... with you.” That's as close as "I love you" the movie ever got. And in James' part, he said to Emma, "I love your daughter very much..." And that was after Sylvia had gone! What's the point of the love story if one of the lovers (if you could even call them that) is not around? There's no kiss, no hug, no intimate or close to intimate scenes between them! The only hand-holding I saw between them was when she was resting in bed after her first collapse. Oh well, at least it was better than no love story. At first, after watching 'TITANIC', I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was perfect with Kate Winslet, that they were the ultimate screen couple. But now I see that Johnny Depp is a better choice. They should seriously act in a romance movie one day.
Although 'Finding Neverland' only won the Oscar for 'Best Score', I say it sure beats 'The Aviator' which snatched away so many more Oscars from better movies like 'The Phantom of the Opera' and 'TROY'.
My Rating: 4/5*

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