Originally debuting across the pond, (England for those of you in Huntsville) Finding Neverland may be Johnny Depp's best performance yet. While this movie does not contain many (read any; for if they exist, the are subtle at best) Deppisms. Rather, it is a powerful portrayal of John Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Depp's performance could be compared to John Wayne's: both actors so in character that they didn't seem to be acting at all. Thusly, if you are seeking another one of Johnny's over-the-top performances, you won't find it here without some digging.
On balance, Titanic's famed Kate Winslet is a powerhouse actress in this story--so much so, that by the end of the movie, there will not be a dry eye in the house. She is still just as young and beautiful in this film, and perhaps a bit more mature—in short, she is still an idol and iconic young woman. These traits may be what brings the audience to tears: no one wants to see her suffer.
The onscreen magic between Depp and Winslet is phenomenal. She very convincingly pulls off a caring, loving mother who has been at the height of society, but who has, having been dealt a bad lot in life, is now banished to a lesser luxury as a single mother of four boys. And how appropriate too for Kate who has claimed that, "After Titanic it would have been completely foolish for me to go and try and top that." In playing the role of the sublime dreamer Mr. Barrie, Depp certainly has the ability—if only because of the range of characters he has played (and for that matter one that he is slated to play i.e. Willy Wonka) to make the absurd imaginations of children a reality. So perhaps there are Deppisms in this film after all, albeit well hidden. Combine these two very talented people with such dynamic characters in a frame of film together and what could possibly be the result other than magic?
For those movie trivia fans out there, it may be of interest to state here that there were three actors from Pirates of the Caribbean in this film: Johnny of course; Angus Barnett, the chubby solider; and Mackenzie Crook, the pirate with the removable wooden eye. Also of special note is that Depp was so impressed with Freddie Highmore's (Peter) performance that he asked Tim Burton to cast him as Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
If you've ever had the Toys R Us syndrome (not wanting to grow up), then this movie will give you the means to be a kid again. In a time where the current underlying theme in movie making is perceived truth versus reality, it is only appropriate to recall the words of John Milton's Paradise Lost: "The mind can make a hell out of heaven or a heaven out of hell." Certainly life is what one makes it. Mr. Berrie showed the world that life is for living and enjoying. Indeed, how many have been warmed by the now timeless classic Peter Pan?