Film: Neverwas

Every fairy tale needs its hero

Neverwas is a 2005 film starring Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, Nick Nolte, and Brittany Murphy about a promising young psychologist, Dr. Zach Riley, who begins working at a small private mental institution in New England. Years ago, T.L. Pierson, the acclaimed author of Neverwas, a classic piece of children's fantasy, was hospitalized for severe depression in this place. Pierson was Zach Riley's father, and the child hero of Neverwas is based on Zach. Pierson later committed suicide, and his son discovered his body. Working in the hospital, Zachary meets Gabriel Finch, a patient who has intimate knowledge of Neverwas and who has been waiting many long and lonely years for Zachary to come and return Gabriel to his rightful place as king of Neverwas. As Zachary tries to cure Gabriel of his delusions, he learns that there is more reality to Neverwas than meets the eye, and he makes a hero's journey to restore the kingdom.

This film contains examples of:

  • Bedlam House: Millwood is an aversion. Although the place is falling apart and is rapidly losing funding, the patients are treated well on the shoestring budget and Dr. Reed clearly cares about trying to help them.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Maggie was a childhood friend of Zach and they're in a relationship by the end.
  • The Chosen One: Gabriel believes that Dr. Riley has arrived to free Finch and restore his kingdom. He does.
  • Dueling Movies: The movie didn't receive much promotion, possibly because it was released on the heels of Finding Neverland which had similar themes of contrasting reality and the story written from it. There was also some talk of possible legal complications with that film and with the Harry Potter pictures; in any case, it went straight to DVD and has become a Cult Classic.
  • I Am Not Spock: For many reasons, Dr. Riley reacts badly when people go "oh, you're that Zachary", one reason he uses his mother's maiden name.
  • Mad Dreamer: Gabriel Finch has submerged himself in a highly detailed world of fantasy.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: All of Finch's prophecies, possibly because Gabriel told Pierson his story and Pierson wrote a children's book based on it. When Finch discovers the book in Zach's things, he understands exactly what his old friend has done, and regards the book as prophetic.
  • Suicide by Cop: Possibly what Finch was going for in the final sequence depending on how much you think he knows he's insane.