Pin It
Favorite

Lost Boy 

by Ed Symkus


It's been almost 20 years since the release of Dreamchild, a film that explored the relationship between Lewis Carroll and young Alice Liddell, who became his model for Alice in Wonderland. Now cameras turn to what might have been behind J.M. Barrie's writing of the play Peter Pan. The events of the film start in 1903 London, and are "inspired by true events," as the disclaimer reads. For the record, facts and events portrayed are skewed into a world beyond what any of the people concerned would have recognized, but that does nothing to take away from the impact and enjoyment of watching the film.


Johnny Depp, who hasn't given a bad performance since his bland one all those years ago in A Nightmare on Elm Street, may not top himself here. (There are Ed Wood, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Pirates of the Caribbean to contend with). But he sure does give vibrant life to Scottish writer J.M. Barrie, perfect accent and all.


When first seen in the film, the popular playwright is a nervous wreck, backstage on opening night of a play that one unhappy audience member is heard to say is "rubbish from start to finish." Depp's Barrie is dispirited over it, but it's not long before this boy in a man's body is shown to have a wild imagination, to have eyes that see what no one else can, and the ability to transform his fantastical ideas into words on a page.


But that transformation doesn't happen -- at least in the film's telling -- until he meets his muses. It seems that Barrie regularly used to take a walk to the park with his dog in order to write. On one of his strolls, he bumps into the recently widowed Sylvia Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four young boys. One of them is Peter (Freddie Highmore), a precocious lad who calls Barrie's actions "absurd" when he starts playing around with their dog.


It's here that the film first takes a few steps into the world that's likely always going on in Barrie's mind. His dance with the Davies dog turns into a dance with a huge, obviously fake bear. So what if no one else can see it? Though it's too bad Peter can't.


Before long, and much to the chagrin of Barrie's social climber wife Mary (Radha Mitchell), the Davies family is invited to dinner; soon after, Barrie starts to spend much more time with them than with Mary. Around Mrs. Davies and her boys, he's brighter, happier.


This situation gives the film has a chance to explore the potential for raw emotion in these characters' lives -- an opportunity that director Marc Foster lets go by. A friend tells Barrie that people are talking -- he's spending too much time with the widow. But the innocent-minded Barrie can't believe what he's hearing. He wonders out loud why can't people just be happy and let others be happy. It's clear that Barrie's is not a happy home life -- but like the business of people talking about him, the problems aren't detailed, they're only sketched. Too bad: They're areas that are ripe for examination.


But nothing is held back in other parts of the film. Julie Christie is deliciously demanding and controlling as Sylvia's mother, a wealthy woman who doesn't think much of Barrie and considers him an intruder in their lives. In a wonderful moment that goes by so quickly it's hard to catch, he sees her holding a coat hanger, and pictures it as a hook.


Things are not all play; there's also a persistent sadness running through this film. It tells of bad times in the past, sickness and unhappiness in the present. But it's also about surprises and the wonders they can work. Most important, it's about the power of imagination.





Publication date: 12/23/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Julyamsh

Julyamsh @ Kootenai County Fairgrounds

Through July 24

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • A Senseless Death
  • A Senseless Death

    Family and friends search for answers in the wake of an unsolved South Hill killing
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • Under the Needle
  • Under the Needle

    For the past quarter-century, Lynn Everson has led a controversial means of making drug users healthier
    • Jun 9, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation