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come away

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★

When their eldest brother dies, Peter and Alice seek to save their parents from despair until they are forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic journeys into Wonderland and Neverland.

Living in the British countryside, children David (Reece Yates), Peter (Jordan A. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa) let their imaginations run wild in flights of fancy, dreaming up woodland tea parties and pirate battles where brandished twigs become swords and spears, in a summer where the discovery of a washed-up boat brings infinite promise. But when David dies suddenly, Alice and Peter see their parents (Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo) hit hard by harsh reality, grief giving way to gambling debts and day-drinking. The kids’ attempts to improve their family’s circumstances send them on a dangerous quest, embellished with fantastical flourishes ripped from Carroll and Barrie’s stories. 

You’ve got to hand it to Come Away - it’s a film that is full of ambition and nearly works on so many levels while remaining wholly entertaining and watchable throughout. Even though it doesn’t quite ring true it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly why one feels this way. 

Come Away attempts to do what Bridge of Terabithia did so well - use fantasy and allegory to confront the issue of death. Perhaps the line between fantasy and the real world becomes a little too muddied. Or it could also be that the ‘real life’ elements of the film clash with the more fantastical as the two are quite thematically and tonally different and opposed, especially for younger viewers.

With the ever superb Gugu Mbatha-Raw providing a solidity to the narrative as the older Alice, Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo playing Alice and Peter’s parents and Michael Caine and Derek Jacobi popping up in supporting roles there still is plenty of whim and fancy to enjoy here with a superb all star cast that is fit to bursting.

Even though it doesn’t quite fulfil its lofty ambitions, Come Away is still wholly entertaining and watchable throughout. 

★★★

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Come Away is available on DVD and digital from all good disc and digital retailers.