6.7/10
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39 user 19 critic

Neverwas (2005)

A well-educated psychiatrist leaves an academic career to work at an institution where his father, a novelist, lived before writing a renowned children's book. Acclimating to his position, ... See full summary »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Zach Riley
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Dr. Peter Reed
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Martin Sands
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Jake
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Ken Roberts ...
Terrence
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Sally
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Judy
Tabitha St. Germain ...
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Husky Sheriff
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Storyline

A well-educated psychiatrist leaves an academic career to work at an institution where his father, a novelist, lived before writing a renowned children's book. Acclimating to his position, he encounters a schizophrenic who helps him to discover the book's secrets and his place in the story. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every fairy tale needs its hero.

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic issues | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

4 August 2006 (Bulgaria)  »

Also Known As:

Eikunagi  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The dream sequence in the beginning shows the young Zachary with huge brown eyes - the adult Zachary has blue eyes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Gabriel Finch: [narrating] For those of you who do not know, this is how it began. Zachary Small was an ordinary little boy. He lived with his ordinary father in an ordinary house in an ordinary town. What Zachary did not know - could not know - was just how unordinary he was. I had heard the stories of young Zachary and his fearlessness. I had seen with my own eyes his selfless acts of bravery and courage. And I knew deep in my heart that he would return to rescue me when I was imprisoned in the ...
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User Reviews

 
Making the Ordinary and the 'Unordinary' Extraordinary
1 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

NEVERWAS, a little miracle of a movie written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, is an allegory, a fairytale, a dissection of the impact of mental illness on parents and children, and story of compassion, believing, and blossoming of character that was created with a sterling ensemble of actors in 2005, failed to find a niche in theatrical distribution, and went straight to DVD - becoming one of those limited release films that is very elusive even in the megavideo stores. The reasons for this relative anonymity are not clear, but film lovers will do well searching out this little gem: the rewards are immediate gratification and long lasting satisfaction.

Narrated by Ian McKellan who plays a major role in the film, the story concerns the return of psychiatrist Zachary Riley/Small (Aaron Eckhart) to an obsolete mental institution named Millhouse, the hospital where his author father T.L. Pierson (Nick Nolte) ended his days in suicide, having suffered from bipolar syndrome. Zach wants to discover secrets about his father, why his father's book 'Neverwas' has been so disturbing to Zach, and to offer good medical treatment to those patients living in the obscure hospital run by the kindly but enigmatic Dr. Reed (William Hurt). Zach is buoyant, greets his new job with joy, and works with various patients in group and individual therapy (the group includes well developed characters portrayed by Alan Cumming, Vera Farmiga, and Michael Moriarty, among others) and encounters the apparently mute Gabriel Finch (Ian McKellan), a delusional man who believes Zach has returned to break the curse preventing his return to his imaginary kingdom of Neverwas.

Zach meets a 'grad student botantist'/reporter Ally (Brittany Murphy) who loves Zach's father's book and urges Zach to read the fairytale as a means to assuage Zach's new nightly nightmares and insomnia dealing with images of himself as a child, his father's suicide, and other strange forces. Ally's commitment to Zach's father's book, Zach's breakthrough to Gabriel Finch, together with Zach's re-evaluation of his agoraphobic mother (Jessica Lange) all intertwine to reestablish Zach's discovery of his relationship to a father whose mental illness prevented the close relationship Zach so desperately missed. In a tumbling set of events that incorporate the fairytale of the book Neverwas with the reality of Zach's father's relationship to Gabriel Finch brings the story to a heartwarming, well considered, touching conclusion. Being 'unordinary' is a goal, not a curse.

In addition to the above-mentioned stellar cast, small parts are also created by Bill Bellamy, Ken Roberts, Cynthia Stevenson among others. The cinematography by Michael Grady manages to keep the audience balanced between real and fantasy and the musical score by renowned composer Philip Glass fits the story like a glove. Ian McKellan gives a multifaceted performance of a man whose delusional life is far more real than his life as a mental patient, Aaron Eckhart finesses the transformation of the lost child seeking his roots with great skill, Nick Nolte gives one of his finer interpretations as the disturbed father/author, and Brittany Murphy manages to maintain a much needed lightness to the atmosphere of the mental institution story setting. The impact of the film, while absorbing from the first images, is the ending, a reinforcement of the importance of love and nurturing that too often is relegated to little books for children instead of the manner in which we live our lives. This is a fine film well worth ferreting out from the obscurity to which it so unjustly has been assigned. Grady Harp


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