When Emily and I were in Boston, we had the amazing opportunity to see the musical Finding Neverland, a musical based off of the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. I was so excited to see this musical because Finding Neverland is one of my all-time favorite movies.
There are lots of reasons why I love Finding Neverland. It is a great story well told. It’s the tale of James Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, only he hasn’t written it yet. On the other hand, he is struggling with writer’s block. He can’t find the inspiration he needs until he meets widowed Sylvia Lewelyn Davies and her four boys. With them he finds the inspiration he needs to write one of the greatest stories ever told: Peter Pan.
This movie is one of Johnny Depp’s few serious movies where he does not play some ridiculous, extravagant character, and he’s absolutely marvelous as the Scottish playwright. It’s an emotional, complex performance, and one of the best in Depp’s career. Kate Winslet, as always, is marvelous, as is a very young Freddie Highmore.
I’m also partial to stories about stories, or stories about writing. (Other good ones are Antonia Michaelis’ Tiger Moon and Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women.) Finding Neverland does a wonderful job of weaving elements of Peter Pan into the story about J.M. Barrie, showing the parallels between the author and his character in a fantastic way. (The musical also does a great job of this.)
I think artists of all sorts will love this movie. It’s a deep, emotional, but ultimately uplifting story about creating art. But everyone can enjoy the universal story about the human spirit. Over coming grief, finding joy, rediscovering the child within all of us. These are all important themes for everyone in every part of life.
Sometimes you watch a movie that’s a good story, but poorly made. Other times you sit through one that’s a bad story but well made. It’s a true treasure when you find a movie that is both an excellent story and well told. Finding Neverland is one of those movies. The story is eternal, much like the boy who would never grow old.