Not being a Johnny Depp fan, I avoided Finding Neverland as long as I could. Based on recommendations of several people whose opinions I value, I finally caved. I am very infrequently surprised by films. This one surprised me more than any other film in 2004. I was expecting a stuffy, highfalutin film about an author and his life (I have to confess—I hadn’t read any reviews to come to this opinion). Much to my chagrin, the film is not really about adults or adult problems (even though there are several adult issues). It is about children…being a child, holding on to your childhood as long as possible, never letting your child-like innocence and imagination go…etc. The film is based on the life of J.M Barrie, who was a semi-successful playwright in 1900s London…semi-successful only until he wrote the play Peter Pan. Depp plays Barrie in a very toned down way…quiet and introspective. We really never find out what’s going on in Barrie’s mind until it appears on stage through his plays. But, no offense to Mr. Depp, but the children steal this movie. Kate Winslet, as the widowed mother of four boys, including Barrie’s Peter Pan inspiration, and even a small, comic-relief role by Dustin Hoffman do not bring as much joy to the film as the children do when they are on screen. These children provide Barrie with his inspiration and also provide this film with its heart.

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If you just let your inhibitions go…feel them float out of your body…watch them disappear…then and only then can you watch this film. The stipulation to this rule is if you are already a Charlie Kaufman (the screenwriter of Adaptation fame), you might be able to watch this and hang on to your inhibitions. But, fans of Jim Carrey be warned…this is NOTa typical Carrey film. Even the more “serious” films the actor has done (The Truman Show, The Majestic) are no comparison to the level of seriousness and un-Carrey like behavior of this film. With all of that said, if you still want to see this one, read on. Eternal Sunshine is a hard movie to write about since I still really don’t know what it’s about or what it meant. It’s a film that brings to life a person’s imagination, intellect, and emotions and captures their essences on the screen. To pigeonhole this film and call it bizarre or weird does not give it enough justice. Though, it is remarkably bizarre and unquestionably weird, it’s also thought-provoking, sensitive, smart, and extremely innovative. One has become to expect these oddities from screenwriter Kaufman. But, unlike Adaptation’s more conventional theme and storyline, Eternal Sunshine defies all conventions…actually more like blows them away. If you are in the mood for something avant-garde yet you’re not quite ready for the French New Wave, watch this one.

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect here, other than Kate Winslet falls for a young boy. And that is just the tip of this one. For me, this film stayed with me for days…it lingered and I kept thinking about certain issues from the film that the main character, Michael Berg, has to contemplate. It is a movie that gets not only the brain going but it makes the audience wonder, what would I do? I kept wondering even days after seeing the film, did the character make the right decision. What would have happened if he had done this…or that? It is not a perfect film and I found parts of it a little too slow, but for the most part, The Reader is a fascinating exploration into the psyche.

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