Finding Neverland

Inciting Event: While writing in the park, James meets the Llewellyn-Davies family—widowed mother Sylvia and her four young boys. They immediately connect, and the lonely James begins playing imaginative games with the boys. This is the beginning of the main conflict: both James’s relationship with the boys and his inspiration for his new play Peter Pan.

First Plot Point: James begins writing the new play, based on the make-believe stories he plays out with the boys. He asks the third son Peter if he can name the main character after him. This is a very subtle First Plot Point, especially since it’s not initially stated outright that James is starting his new play. But it’s the clear shift into the main conflict, in which the play is the through line.

First Pinch Point: While playing cricket at a match to which he invited the Llewellyn-Davies, James learns from a friend that rumors are circulating about his having an affair with the mother Sylvia and even perhaps having an improper relationship with the boys themselves. The entire movie is understated, so it can afford a gently understated pinch point such as this one. The pinch point does a decided job of emphasizing what’s at stake for everyone in continuing this relationship, but it does so in an unobtrusive, almost off-handed way.

Midpoint: While watching a play that the introverted and melancholy Peter has secretly written for James and his mother, Sylvia has an attack of coughing—which prompts James to call the doctor. He learns Sylvia is very ill. This shifts the entire nature of the conflict. With Sylvia’s life now on the line, James is uncertain whether he can best help this family he has come to love by continuing his relationship with them or by walking away from them. Meanwhile, he presses onward with the play.

Second Pinch Point: While playing on the “flying” rigs used in the play, the oldest boy George falls and breaks his arm. He refuses to have his arm set unless his mother agrees to see the doctor. Not only is there suitable danger to life and limb (literally) in this scene to make viewers immediately feel the pinch, this is also the turning point that moves Sylvia and James onto the path of discovery about her illness, which will lead them straight to the Third Plot Point.

Third Plot Point: On the opening night of the play, Sylvia experiences her worst attack yet and must go back to bed, too ill to see the play. Only Peter attends, at her request. The play is a tremendous success, but when James visits Sylvia afterwards, he realizes she is dying. This is a nice interweaving of the false victory with the moment of defeat.

Climax: James brings the full play into Sylvia’s house, so she can watch it in her own living room. At the end, she gets to see Neverland and metaphorically enter it. She dies shortly thereafter.

Climactic Moment: James helps Peter to “believe” in his imagination so he can see his mother in Neverland whenever he wishes. The Climactic Moment itself is subtle in this story, but it ends the tension that has been present from the beginning due to Peter’s grief-stricken refusal to embrace the make-believe of childhood.

Resolution: None. The story fades out immediately after the Climactic Moment.

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