Tag Archives: Peter Pan

Lost, Not Found

The Lost Girls

by Cat McAlpine

After a whirlwind summer, Wendy Darling is too old to return to the lost boys again. So, what does poor Peter do? Simply waits for her daughter. And then waits for her daughter. And the one after that.

It’s easy to see how a classic, magical story is a nightmare in disguise. The Lost Girls explores four generations of Darling women and how a summer with Peter Pan impacts them for the rest of their lives. Based on the novel by Laurie Fox, the film has promise but drastically fumbles.

Adapting, directing, and starring in the film, Livia De Paolis has taken on more than she can chew. Weaving back and forth in time, while also capturing the stories of four generations of women, The Lost Girls fails to solidify any one character. Wendy is meant to be depicted as a dreamer, struggling between her imagination and real life. Unfortunately, she’s wholly irredeemable. None of Wendy’s experiences or actions endear viewers to her.

While the Peter Pan story is familiar, De Paolis would have benefitted from spending more time with Peter to show what has so enraptured four women across time. The fantastical characters are somehow the most believable. Both Louis Partridge as Peter Pan and Iain Glen as Hook are captivating on-screen. Unfortunately, they alone cannot carry the film.

There is a lot to be unearthed here. An immortal fae boy consistently grooms young women to adore him, only to abandon them as they age. Though each girl falls in love with Peter, he insists that their relationship remain chaste. His pirate counterpart, just as immortal and devious but in an older man’s body, pursues the girls and assaults them. That summer of whirlwind trauma haunts the Darling women for the rest of their lives. The results are muddy and inconsistent.

While The Lost Girls has opportunity to explore inherited mental illness here, it’s unclear if it is the source material or the adaptation that skirts the issue. Every Darling woman seems to present her illness differently, from flights of fancy to narcissism to suicide attempts. There is no clear source for their shared hallucination, or shared fantastical reality. There is no pattern to their illnesses or the consequences of a lifetime of disappointment after coming of age.

Bookended by bad CGI and a consistent lack of chemistry, The Lost Girls itself seems pretty lost.

Beastly Children


by Hope Madden

Earlier this year, Oz Perkins retold the old Grimm Fairy Tale Hansel and Gretel from the perspective of the newly adolescent sister. It was a fascinating way to reexamine folklore and coming of age.

Likewise, director and co-writer Ben Zeitlin reimagines the old Peter Pan tale, this time through the eyes of Wendy.

It’s not entirely clear why, though.

Zeitlin and writing partner Eliza Zeitlin impressed—more than impressed, they flabbergasted—with their near-perfect 2012 feature debut, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Their sophomore effort delivers a similarly loose narrative structure, another game cast of mostly children and unknowns, and gorgeous visuals that emphasize the chaotic and restless beauty of childhood.

Wendy opens strong. Zeitlin’s impressionistic camera work evokes an intimate if raucous scene of a toddler (Wendy) charming patrons on her mother’s hip at a dodgy diner abutting a train station.

It sets up a thrilling first act that unfortunately settles into thematic confusion once we get to Neverland.

Not that J. M. Barrie’s original text was entirely rational. The underlying theme—being lost without maternal love—remains intact, but for the Zeitlins, that theme takes on an ecological nature. Mother, in the form of a giant glowing fish, represents Mother Nature (and also Tinker Bell—stay with me).

Who would want to grow up when grownups do thoughtless, destructive things that damage, perhaps kill, the mother that sustains them? It’s a heavy-handed idea, but Zeitlin’s clearly Malick-esque style of evocative visuals held together by whispered narration keeps it from feeling like a sermon.

Still, it doesn’t entirely work.

If Tinker Bell/Giant Fish is the  mother character, where does that leave Wendy?

What a fascinating  question! I wish the Zeitlins had a better answer.

The Zeitlins don’t seem to know. The Peter character, played with mischievous energy by Yashua Mack, is also depicted without real clarity, but that’s OK. Peter is supposed to be an enigma, his relationship with Wendy (Devin France) is meant to provide the backbone that holds the adventure together. But they don’t have much of a relationship.

Not much in the film actually seems to have a clear relationship to anything else, which makes for frustrating, often tedious viewing. Worse still, the Zeitlins’ voice over narration, clearly meant to hold the pieces together and provide some forward momentum, echoes with world-weary wisdom and regret that sounds forced and inauthentic in little Devin France’s voice.

Rather than a reimagining of Peter Pan, Wendy feels like a misguided reworking of Beasts of the Southern Wild, which did not need tampering of any kind.