But Finding Neverland is enthalling regardless of how you feel about the play itself. Mostly true, in the way that most of these sorts of biopics are (*cough*DeLovely*cough*) without getting too deep into the sordid bits, it's hard to imagine anyone but Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, playwright, imagineer, and little boy lost. And in Barrie, Depp has found the perfect blend of all his previous lost characters: Edward Scissorhands, Wade "Crybaby" Walker, Sam from Benny and Joon, Don Juan DeMarco, Gilbert Grape, Donnie Brasco, Roux, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Sands, Mort Rainey...Barrie is all of them, in a way. He's lost something, he's seen too much, and yet he's optimistic and playful still. There's also a clever casting of Dustin Hoffman as Barrie's financier...you know, the guy who was the title character of Hook?
Trapped in a loveless marriage to a society aspirant, he meets a widow and her four sons one day in the park and it's hard to tell which he falls for, the woman, or the pack of surrogate sons and playmates. But as a result of their friendship, he is inspired to write his most enduring work, "Peter Pan."
Even though there are some convenient alterations of history (such as, she wasn't a widow, and there were five sons - hey, it's Miramax) it's got a delightful Shakespeare in Love behind the scenes play-within-a-play dynamic that works. It sucks you in...and it'll make you cry.
It's that compelling a story. A man looking for his happy ending...and mostly getting it...but never without a price.
Not that it ever made him stop believing it would happen.