Tuesday, December 14, 2004
This film was one I had really been wanting to see. Ever since Johnny Depp catapulted back into Hollywood with Pirates of the Caribbean he has gained more and more respect as an actor, and has the choice roles to prove it. His portrayal of playwright JM Barrie in Finding Neverland was moving, from the Scottish-twinged accent, to his mannerisms, to his honest face in which I was completely engrossed. Acting-wise, two of the younger actors made the movie for me. First the youngest of the Davies children provided great comic relief, and then newcomer Freddie Highmore who played Peter Davies was heartbreakingly wonderful. As a member of the audience you felt his resentment for losing a parent, you rejoiced in those moments when he reverted back to acting like the little boy that he was, and you cried with him as big tears welled up into his innocent eyes. I was pleased to find out today that we will be seeing more of little Mr. Highmore as he will be playing alongside Johnny Depp again as Charlie in the upcoming Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.
Without giving away too much of the plot, I want to share a few scenes of the movie that made Finding Neverland so magical to me. Yes, the acting was incredible, but the direction, cinematographer, producers- whoever, that saw certain moments to draw out in the film, made the film come alive to me. The best example is in the scene just after the Davies family has dined with Mr. and Mrs. Barrie. Mrs. Barrie closes the door and says, "well that was dreadful," meanwhile you see around to the other side of the door where Mrs. Davies' mother says the same thing. Then Mrs. Davies disagrees- and around the other side of the door Mr. Barrie objects to Mrs. Barrie and says he had an enjoyable time. Back and forth the shots go, from the family walking down the path away from the Barrie house back to inside the Barrie house with Mr. and Mrs. walking up the grand staircase. The scene culminates with each of their side-by-side bedroom doors opening. Inside Mrs. Barrie's room we see a bed. Inside Mr Barrie's, Neverland.
At one point Peter and "Uncle Jim" Barrie are seated directly across from one another in the room, and their legs are crossed exactly the same way, only opposite from one another. This was a great visual representation of how the two characters, despite their age difference are very much alike.
Even the manner in which JM Barrie meets the Davies family for the first time is cleverly shot. He sits on his park bench and opens up the newspaper only to find a carefully cut hole where the review of his play had been. The character proceeds to hold up the newspaper to examine the hole further, and it is through this hole that we see the Davies family in the distance playing in the park from the viewpoint of Mr. Barrie.
Ever since befriending Thomas, the theater and film aficionado in high school, I have learned to pay closer attention to details such as these, and I'm all the more delighted by movies because of it. The Golden Globe nominations came out this week and our beloved Johnny Depp has been nominated for best actor for Finding Neverland. (Have you ever stopped to think how odd it is to have a 40-some-odd man going by Johnny? Somehow Jonathan or John Depp just doesn't have the same appeal though, so I guess he's bound to be Johnny until he retires from moviemaking.) Joining the nomination for best actor are several others including best picture (drama) and best director. All that to say, Bradley and Borders both gave it 2 thumbs way up.