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Finding Neverland:

March 12, 2010

I’m going to start out with my favorite film:

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland

This film, I feels, combines what you want to see in a film.  It is a strong story, has good acting, and is visually beautiful to watch.

The story is that of J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.  It follows his process of creating the story and his inspiration for it.  He goes from down in the dumps, having had some success as a playwright, but he his most recent works have been panned.  He finds his muse, so to speak, in a family with three boys.  Their father has died, and they have had to grow up too quickly.

It works with the characters as well the difference between Peter, a young boy who is very mature of his age, and J.M. Barrie who is a grown man but still acts at times like an immature little boy.  Freddie Highmore gives a very good performance as Peter, showing that he is a very good young actor and should have a good career ahead of him.  Johnny Depp does a good job of playing the more immature adult figure with his normal set of quirks that fit perfectly for the character.  As one would imagine, they do learn from each other and much of the film focuses on this aspect.  They end up bonding and creating a relationship that is worth seeing.

Visually this film is done beautifully.  It transitions between reality and the mind of J.M. Barrie and the two boys.  The shots are colorfully created and aren’t just big grand shots that some films tend to stick to, but it combines the beautiful scenery with more intimate shots.  It also uses a wonderful fade to white at the end.  Normally films fade to black, but with the feeling of the last scene, this film is willing to buck what is the standard convention and offer something more.

The best part about this film is the message.  Some people get confused by the pseudo-romantic tryst that J.M. Barrie seems to be having with the mother of the boys.  The real idea of this film is the idea of creativity and the loss of creativity that people tend to have as they get older.  Everything in life becomes structured.  People don’t have that time, and at times the ability, to make that creative decision or action anymore.  It is something that is sad to see being lost as people age.  This film really puts the two characters, Peter and J.M. Barrie, not really saying that either is the ideal but placing them opposite to each other and saying that a fully mature person loses some ability to have fun but as compared to the place where J.M. Barrie is at, he isn’t capable of being mature and responsible.  The film would say that there needs to be some sort of balance between the two.

Entertainment Grade: A

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A+

Just a little on my grading technique.  I’ve found that a single grade for a film is really not enough.  A film can be terrible but be extremely entertaining.  Or a film can be extremely well done but very boring.  So there needs to be a separate grade for the two.  If you want to know how the various letter grades will break down:

  • A+ – A-: I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys any sort of film and probably worth buying.
  • B+ – B-: It was very entertaining and is worth checking out but I won’t say you should buy it, it will depend on your taste.
  • C+ – C-: If it is in a genre that you like, you’ll enjoy the film.  Most likely just worth a rental though.
  • D+ – D-: Not really worth watching, but it could be entertaining if you really love the genre, but that is a major maybe, I probably just saved you from wasting time.
  • F: Don’t watch, if you do, you likely will regret it and wish you had that time back in your life and most likely will feel dumber for having seen it.
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