by Jim Allen on February 12, 2019

in Extras


Following up his critically acclaimed Monster’s Ball, director Marc Forster took on this biography of playwright James Matthew Barrie, the scribe who penned the children’s classic Peter Pan. Johnny Depp stars as the turn-of-the-century writer as the film follows Barrie as he struggles to write and have his play produced. J.M. Barrie’s Finding Neverland also stars Dustin Hoffman, Kate Winslet, and Julie Christie.

Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland is the story of a man who doesn’t want to grow up and writes the story of a boy who never does. The boy is Peter Pan and the man is Sir J.M. Barrie who wrote his famous play after falling under the spell of a widow and her four young boys. That Barrie was married at the time, that he all about ignored his wife, that he all but moved into the widow’s home, that his interest in the boys raised little suspicion, would make this story play very differently today. Learn to play Bingo games too in the meantime. Johnny Depp’s performance makes Barrie not only believable but acceptable.

Cast of the movie

In addition to Johnny Depp as Barrie and Kate Winslet as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the film stars Dustin Hoffman as producer Charles Frohman, Julie Christie as Sylvia’s mother Emma du Maurier and Radha Mitchell as Barrie’s wife Mary. Hoffman had appeared a dozen years earlier in the title role of the Peter Pan sequel Hook. The original screenplay for this film included a scene in which his character — the play’s sceptical producer — was to put on the Captain Hook costume and read some of his lines to point out how silly he found it. The Llewelyn boys are portrayed by Freddie Highmore (Peter), Nick Roud (George), Joe Prospero (Jack) and Luke Spill (Michael). Highmore’s performance in this film led Johnny Depp to suggest him to Tim Burton for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which Highmore played Charlie Bucket and Depp played Willy Wonka.


Finding Neverland originally was scheduled to be released in the autumn of 2003. Columbia Pictures, which owned the film rights to Barrie’s original play and was adapting it for cinema release the same year, refused to allow Miramax to use screens from the play in Finding Neverland if it were released during the same year. Finding Neverland opened in 2004, 100 years after Barrie’s play opened. Richmond Theatre in Richmond Thames doubled as the Duke of York’s Theatre-the venue in which Peter Pan was first presented. Filming in various places in the UK. Production shot a fantasy sequence at the Laredo Wild West Town in Kent.

How was the film received by the critics?

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 83% based on 202 reviews with an average rating of 7.5/10. In her review in The Times, Wendy Ide called the film “charming but rather idiosyncratic” and added, “ A mixture of domestic drama, tragedy and exuberant fantasy, the film blends moist-eyed nostalgia with the cruel disappointments of a marriage break-up; a childlike playfulness and unpredictability with a portrait of a treacherously unforgiving and rigid Edwardian society”. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said it “is the kind of film where even the smallest crack has been sealed”.

Depp and Winslet share a rare combination of airiness, earthiness and sharp, wry intelligence. Don’t miss this emotional historical drama!

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