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Stars: Devin France, Yashua Mack, Gavin Naquin, Gage Naquin, Lowell Landes, Shay Walker

Director: Benh Zeitlin

A riff on the Peter Pan story from the director Beasts of the Southern Wild. At a railside diner run by their mother (Walker), 11-year-old Wendy (France) and her older brothers (the Naquin twins) watch the trains go by as the counter rattles behind them.

'The train,' narrates Wendy, 'goes past all the billions of people who never dared to leave.' Then they see a waif, Tom (Krzysztof Meyn) board the train, while the impish Peter (Mack) races along the top. And soon the three children have followed suit.

They end up being pushed from the train into a river by Peter, who takes them to an island where he and the 'lost boys' (now including Tom) have never grown up. 'Never slow down,' says Peter. 'Never think twice.' With this in mind, the three kids embark on a magical mystery tour across and around the island.

There's a deep-sea monster that 'mothers' them and an underwater grotto. But the dream turns into a nightmare when they discover a colony of distinctly unfriendly 'oldies' on the other side of the island.

Long in the making, this fantasy is often a joy to watch, but it's too languid at times and gets very muddled towards the end. Why does one character suddenly grow old? How do the children escape? It's all a bit of a jumble and the continuity isn't great either.

Kudos to the kids, though, for spending much of the film underwater, although the acting is in general only adequate, save for France who's really very good. An adult career surely awaits.

Shooting, incidentally, was accomplished in Montserrat, Antigua, Louisiana and Mexico in the days before the pandemic.

David Quinlan

USA 2020. UK Distributor: Picturehouse (Elysian/Fox Searchlight). Technicolor.
112 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Aug 2021