This week’s MYHNSBS is perfect for your impending Thanksgiving apocalypse!
It’s time for another installment of “Movies You Have Not Have Seen….But You Should”. For this week, we will once again highlight at a film that is based on a true story. We will look at the 2004 film Finding Neverland. The film stars include Johnny Depp, Kate Winslett and Dustin Hoffman.
The film (based on the book The Man Who Was Peter Pan by Allan Knee) is about the life of J. M. Barrie (played in the film by Depp). Barrie was an author and playwright from Scotland who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At the time the film begins, Barrie is struggling as a writer. His last play, Little Mary was not received well and he was having a hard time coming up with a new story. While trying to come up with inspiration to break through his writer’s block, he meets Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (played by Winslett). Davies is widowed and is struggling to take care of her four young sons. Barrie meets Davies and her sons while at Kensington Gardens and a friendship develops. The interactions that take place between Barrie and the boys spark his imagination again. As he is helping the boys act out their imaginations through playing cowboys and indians and such, he becomes inspired to write a new play.
However, as his friendship with the boys and specifically with Sylvia grows, his relationship with his wife Mary (played by Radha Mitchell, known for her work in Pitch Black, Man on Fire and Olympus Has Fallen) suffers. Another who objects to Barrie’s relationship with Davies is Sylvia’s mother Emma du Marrier (played by Academy Award winning actress Julie Christie). This does not deter Barrie as he continues to care for Sylvia and the boys, particularly Peter Davies (played by Freddie Highmore in one of his first acting roles).
Meanwhile, he is inspired what becomes known as Peter Pan. The film depicts one of the first stage productions of the play and what it took to get from the paper to the stage. Though the producer of the play Charles Frohman (played by Academy Award winning actor Dustin Hoffman) was skeptical, Barrie believed in the story and ended up proven to be correct. The story about a boy who never grew up was a huge hit and has become a timeless story.
Like many based on a true story films, this one as well has differences between the film and real life, one of those included the fact that Davies actually had five children and not four. However, the story itself is a compelling one and does translate well onto the screen. The film was directed by Marc Forester, who also has directed such films as Quantum of Solace, Monster’s Ball and World War Z. It debuted at the Venice Film Festival on September 4, 2004. It was released theatrically in the U.K. on October 29, 2004 followed by release in the U.S. on November 12, 2004. That year was also the 100th anniversary of the play’s first opening. It received 83% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. The film grossed over $118 million worldwide with a budget of only $25 million. It received several Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (for Johnny Depp), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and did win an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Finding Neverland is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Amazon Instant Video. If you’re a fan of the story of Peter Pan or of Johnny Depp or simply want to watch a good drama that will make you smile and cry, then this is a film worth seeing. It’s one that you may not have seen, but you should.