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FINDING NEVERLAND

The same week brings us Kinsey, a film about a man who uncovered the truth about sex, and Finding Neverland, a film about a man who pretended that sex didnít exist. So, it appears, did the filmmakers. According to a Laura Miller column in the New York Review of Books last December, J.M. Barrie, author most notably of Peter Pan, decided to take his brotherís place when David Barrie died in a skating accident at age 13. To please his mother, he wore Davidís clothes and spoke like him, and he never developed into adolescence. He was five feet tall and, itís said, physically immature his entire adult life. Finding Neverland refers to none of this; neither does it suggest that Barrieís preoccupation with children and his dogged "innocence" were anything less than wholesome.

Well, maybe thatís another movie, one directed by David Lynch. Instead we have Marc Forster, whoís gratuitously non-sexual here as he was gratuitously sexual in his Monsterís Ball, and equally mawkish in both. Nonetheless, some viewers are going to wonder why strapping Johnny Depp as Barrie is abandoned without explanation by his wife, and why he then hangs around the park, hits on the underage Llewelyn Davies kids, worms his way into the graces of their mom (Kate Winslet), and develops their cloyingly rendered pirate fantasies into the 1911 hit that saves his theatrical career. Winslet does not bare her breast (a first) leaving the eternally young Julie Christie to heat up the screen as her disapproving mother. The play is still magical: when Peter begs the audience to clap if they believe, many in the movie audience will. As for finding Neverland, no problem ó itís where we live today. (101 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: November 19 - 25, 2004
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