Finding Neverland

Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Finding Neverland

Cert PG

Peter Bradshaw
Friday October 29, 2004
The Guardian

Ah, the golden, sun-dappled world of boyhood in our lost Edwardian age! The toasting of crumpets by the nursery fire, fondly superintended by one's apple-cheeked nanny, the glorious picnics from Fortnum's hampers on a dazzling white cloth! The cardboard bus tickets, the pennies as big as manhole-covers, the 10-shilling notes as big as newspapers; a world in which one might as a child bowl a hoop in one's sailor suit along Kensington Gardens, where one's make-believe games would be inspired by meeting a sad-eyed literary gentleman of a certain age who had no interest in chopping one up and attempting to hide the remains in an out-of-town self-storage facility.
Of course, as the century progresses, there evolves the annual Christmas treat of seeing JM Barrie's boisterous yet gentle fantasy Peter Pan on the stage, and passionately wishing that children were able to fly - a fond belief that perhaps much later inspired the current Neverland proprietor Michael Jackson to dangle his infant over a hotel balcony. It is in this arcadia that director Marc Forster sites his sugary, speculative biopic of James Barrie, adapted from Allan Knee's stage-play The Man Who Was Peter Pan and played by a very weirdly accented Johnny Depp.
It's the early 20th century, and Barrie's latest work for the theatre has flopped horribly. He is badly in need of new inspiration. Sporting eccentrically with his St Bernard in the park one day, Barrie is entranced by the four young sons of Mrs Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and immediately strikes up a rapport with them - and with their mother.
Their wild fantasy games of African explorers, pirates and Red Indians trigger his great work, and the clear-eyed innocence of these games rejuvenates Barrie, though it is sceptical and sardonic little Peter Llewelyn Davies (Freddie Highmore) who is the paradoxical model for Peter Pan himself. Little details from real life are cheekily shown inspiring the play - as in Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh's film about Gilbert and Sullivan - though the grimmer, adult themes of death and loss are also acknowledged in that awfully big and awfully unexplained adventure which Peter Pan sees must come at the end of our rational adult lives.
Johnny Depp really is very, very odd. With his slicked-back hair, evening dress and dark three-piece suits for daywear, he looks like a cross between a minor public-school housemaster and Count Dracula on Temazepam. His performance, torpidly solemn and self-conscious as a potential Oscar winner, has a fraction of the zip of his comic turns in Pirates of the Caribbean and Ed Wood. And that Scottish accent is... well, what exactly? American actors doing upper-class British voices habitually only manage them at about two-thirds speed, much slower than the quick chirrup of the real thing. A patrician Scots accent is arguably more lugubrious, but Depp sounds most like the erstwhile Liverpool and Scotland football international and 1980s TV presenter Ian St John. Close your eyes and you can hear him saying: "Och, children, ye must always believe in fairies, oh you slay me, Greavesie, you really do sometimes, d'you know that?" Ian St John would have shown more emotion in the role than Depp, whose sleepily droll, feline deportment is never for a moment disordered.
Barrie's behaviour is of course very scandalous, behaviour in which sex, or rather the lack of sex, is everywhere on show. Kate Winslet's Sylvia isn't getting sex because her husband (in this fictional version) is dead. Johnny Depp's Barrie isn't getting sex because he and his uptight, social-climbing wife Mary (Radha Mitchell) have separate bedrooms, and they are childless. Barrie and Sylvia are not apparently attracted to each other that way, and as for the relationship between Barrie and the boys themselves - the movie boldly takes the bull by its anachronistic horns and has Barrie's contemporary Arthur Conan Doyle frankly tell him that people are whispering about pederasty. "How can anyone think such evil?" says Barrie scornfully. Were they thinking such evil? Or is thinking such evil confined to an uncomprehending modern age that likewise sniggers at Lewis Carroll and Baden-Powell?
It's a mystery, smartly dismissed here. But the obtuse thing about Forster's movie is that, clearly uneasy about making Barrie relatively indifferent to Sylvia and infatuated just with the boys, it gives him an attraction to her exactly as platonic as his fervent regard for the children. Which is just as it may have been, of course, but it is uncomfortable to see this elevated to eunuch-romantic status. As Sylvia, Kate Winslet is brisk yet loving: a more extrovert, less disquieting version of her Iris Murdoch. As the disapproving mother, Julie Christie settles a scene-stealing chill on the proceedings, and Dustin Hoffman - himself a former Captain Hook in Spielberg's 1991 fantasy - gets some laughs as Barrie's long-suffering producer.
Barrie and the movie itself are in full, fastidious retreat from the adult messiness of sex and love and sadness, taking refuge in the toybox world of the imagination - yet never has that world been more pedantically and unimaginatively portrayed. As Depp and the lads romp around the gardens, Forster shunts us ham-fistedly inside their tinted, fantasy world of pirates and wild west cowboys, as if to say: look how gosh-darned imaginative everything is! And how therefore richly and nobly superior to nasty reality! You really will have to believe in fairies pretty fanatically to get this sugary pudding of a film airborne.

acknowledge- przyznawać, uznawać
airborne- przenosić w powietrzu
biopic- film biograficzny
boisterous- hałaśliwy, porywczy, gwałtowny
cheekily- impertynencko
chirrup- świergot, świergotać
chop (up)- siekać, kroić
confine- ograniczać, oddzielać, zamykać
contemporary- współczesny
crumpet- rodzaj placka
dangle- bujać, dyndać
dappled- nakrapiany, cętkowaby
dazzle- olśniewać, oślepiać
deportment- sposób zachowania się
droll- zabawny, komiczny
elevate- wynosić (w górę), wznosić, podnosić
entrance- pojawienie się
erstwhile- przedtem, wcześniej, uprzednio
evolve- rozwijać się, przekształcać się
fastidious- drobiazgowy; wybredny
feline- koci
fervent- namiętny, żarliwy
flop- robić klapę
fondly- naiwnie, czule
fraction- drobna część, ułamek
grim- ponury, groźny
habitually- nawykowo
hamper - kosz piknikowy, pojemnik z pokrywką na artykuły żywnościowe
infatuated- zakochany, zadurzony
innocence- niewinność
lugubrious- posępny, mroczny, żałobny
manhole-covers- pokrywa włazu
patrician- patrycjusz, arystokrata
rapport- dobry kontakt, zrozumienie
rejuvenate- odmłodnieć
retreat- odwrót
romp around- dokazywać
scornfully- pogardliwie
snigger- parsknąć śmiechem, chichotać
social-climbing- wspinający się po drabinie społecznej, karierowicz
solemn- uroczysty, poważny
speculative- spekulatywny, oparty na przypuszczeniach
sugary- cukierkowaty
take the bull by the horns- brać byka za rogi
toast- piec, opiekać
torpidly- apatycznie
uptight- spięty
zip- energia

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