Humor is blended with gravity, and fantasy with reality, in the enjoyable Finding Neverland. Set in 1903 London, the film chronicles the true story of J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp), a playwright who finds inspiration in widowed mother Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four sons. The hours they spend playing make-believe together become the basis for his play Peter Pan.
However, Barrie's relationship with Davies and her children becomes an item of controversy. Add to this a cold, disapproving grandmother (played very convincingly by Julie Christie) and a jealous wife. Barrie never escapes the scrutiny.
The film takes advantage of its talented cast. Depp convincingly dons a Scottish accent and Winslet effectively conveys the struggle of a widowed mother who is determined to live life as she pleases. The greatest surprise, however, is Freddie Highmore, who plays Davies' precocious son Peter. A difficult role for a young boy, Highmore's performance is emotionally charged and well worth seeing.
The movie flows seamlessly between Barrie's vivid imagination and reality, often blurring the line between the two. However, the conclusion of the film would have been better had Forster cut out the unnecessary final scene, which dampens the emotional gravity of the ending. Nonetheless, the film is a worthy addition to the oeuvre of Peter Pan.