THE BIG PICTURE: Depp's Star Continues to Fascinate and Flourish; Finding Neverland (Cert PG) Starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell and Freddie Highmore; Director Marc Forster. 101 Mins. Rating . . .
Byline: Philip Key
IS JOHNNY DEPP the best actor currently working in film? It seems he can do no wrong, immersing himself into whatever role he tackles. He can be funny as in Pirates of the Caribbean, quirky as he was in Ed Wood or creepy in From Hell.
And now he plays one of Britain's great literary figures with a breathtaking assurance.
Finding Neverland is the story of J. M. Barrie, the Scottish writer still best known as the creator of Peter Pan.
No simple biopic, Finding Neverland is the story of a complex man, one never quite at ease with his fame and position in society.
The film follows his search for fulfilment after his latest drama The Admirable Crichten flops on its opening night in 1902.
He is locked in a loveless marriage to Mary (Radha Michell) and even the words of his producer and patron Charles Frohman (an excellent Dustin Hoffman) fail to ease his mind.
What eventually does is a chance meeting with widow Sylvia Llewellyn Davies who is picnicking with her four sons.
It is a meeting which will eventually release his creative streak as a writer and give the world his masterpiece Peter Pan.
The friendship between Barrie, the widow and her sons is not without its problems.
Sylvia's mother (Julie Christie) is concerned that the friendship will cause gossip while Barrie has an initially troubled relationship with one son, Peter, who is still suffering from the death of his father.
But as anyone who knows Peter Pan will understand, the essential elements of the story of the Lost Boys is all there and Barrie's own imagination -- as he tells tales of pirates, cowboys and Indians to the boys -- fills in the blanks. …