Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore
I’ve never been able to really warm to Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland (2004). Oh, it’s a good enough—but not great—movie with some fine performances. And I suppose it’s unfair to compare it to P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan (2003), though it’s hard not to, since that was the best ever film of the story—a beautiful, yet dark and somewhat dangerous work. It’s only natural to hope that a biopic of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) made soon afterwards might have some similar quality. The truth is that it has more in common with Aunt Polly’s fence than it has with Hogan’s film. That is to say that a prettier whitewash job you’ll never see. Not only does the film skirt (actually, it dismisses it) any hint of dark sexual subtext concerning Barrie’s fondness for the boys, but it invents a completely bogus romance of sorts between the boys’ mother (Kate Winslet) to put it even further at bay. No doubt this was easier for audiences to deal with. The results then are a very old-fashioned biopic from the 1940s about 60 years out of its element. It’s a nice enough time at the movies—especially in the film’s final scene (which is more than just “nice enough”)—but it just feels false.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Finding Neverland at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.