Come Away is an ambitious tale that borrows from the children’s fairy tales of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland to tell the story of a family grieving the accidental death of the eldest of their three children.
Set in Victorian England, Come Away centers on a family headed by David Oyelowo‘s “Dad” and Angelina Jolie‘s “Mom,” and their three children. The eldest, David (Reece Yates), looks out for his younger siblings, Peter (Jordan B. Nash) and Alice (Keira Chansa).
An accident takes the life of David, and the family is left to cope with the loss. Dad and Mom head down self-destructive paths, while the kids try to escape into a fantasy world in their heads.
Adding to all of this, Mom’s overbearing sister is constantly trying to break up what’s left of the family, and it turns out Dad has a huge skeleton in his family tree that endangers them all.
I came away from Come Away with a host of mixed feelings.
The acting was wonderful, and includes supporting turns from the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as an older Alice), and Michael Caine. The children are especially talented, capably handling the dark themes of the movie.
And about those dark themes…for a family film, some of the subject matter felt rather adult, especially when Dad pays a price for being behind in payment of a debt. Younger children may be frightened by some of the images, too.
I was also disappointed that as much as they kept working in references to Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, including character names and cameos, the real magic of those stories didn’t even occur until almost an hour into the film.
If you go into this film expecting a completely fresh look at those fantasy tales, you may be disappointed. It’s there, but not prominently. Come Away does, however, deliver on its look at a family dealing with its grief in not-so-perfect ways.
It’s just a shame that the last third of the film wasn’t longer, as that’s when I really started enjoying the story.
I’m giving Come Away a 4 out of 5. You can see it in select movie theaters and on VOD, starting today, November 13, 2020.
Director: Brenda Chapman
Cast: David Oyelowo, Angelina Jolie, Reece Yates, Jordan B. Nash, Keira Chansa, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Michael Caine
Rating: PG (Unsettling Images|Fantasy Action|Strong Thematic Content|Some Violence)
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