Sunday, October 24, 2004

Finding Neverland

At Brixton Ritzy’s showing of Finding Neverland on Sunday 24 October I don’t think anyone shifted from their seats until the credits were over. They were clearly moved by this most romantic of films.

J M Barrie a successful Scottish playwright at the turn of the last century played by Johnny Depp is going through a bit of a dry creative spell. Taking his morning walk in the park he strikes up a friendship with the four children of a beautiful and spirited widow, Kate Winslet. His friendship develops and he becomes deeply involved with the family to the despair of the widow’s mother, Julie Christie, and the envy of his beautiful but conventional wife, Radha Mitchell.

His close involvement with his delightful surrogate family is the inspiration for his triumphantly successful play put on by his indulgent American theatre producer Dustin Hoffman. Eventually his wife leaves him and Kate Winslet dies but not before domineering and protective grandmother Julie Christie warms to him.

The actors playing the children with a mixture of verbal sophistication and naivety are particularly good. Johnny Depp who is supposed to have difficulty with accents maintains a gentle unexaggerated Scottish accent for his superb portrayal of Barrie.
Kate Winslet only has to play Kate Winslet and does so with total conviction. She is perfect. Hoffman, Christie and Mitchell are excellent as are the supporting cast.

The film raises the sensitive issue of Barrie’s close friendship with the four boys in a scene at a cricket match where a friend warns him of the way people think. Barrie dismisses these fears as I'm sure did the audience at the Ritzy and as I hope they will do all over the world.