Neverland, the ranch that Michael Jackson once founded as an amazing and fun place for kids, serves as the main setting for the controversial testimony of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the men who once shared a frat with the King of Pop and who now, a lot of years later, they insist on cataloging him as the worst depraved in existence.
In 236 documented minutes, under the effect of the visual and sound tragedy that the cinema can offer, you are listening to the story so separate but at the same time so similar of Wade and James. The description of the events is crude and in part painful, because somehow innocence and perversity mix to create in the viewer a feeling of rage and helplessness.
Everything seems armed with the intention of provoking hatred and rejection against which he delighted us with his wonderful dance steps and his songs. After watching the documentary, denounced by Michael Jackson's family and many of his fans as a sham to cause large sums of money, I was somewhat shocked by the perverse events that are described there. I have to admit that at this point Dan Reed, the producer and screenwriter behind the camera and the pen, got the job done for him. However, there are enough reasons to classify this work as "an invention just as true as fantasy stories."
A moving train, a large mansion surrounded by green grass and beautiful spaces. There precisely, we see Jackson sharing happy and smiling with a Wade who is barely 9 years old. The boy dances to one day be as famous as his idol, and his talent and cunning seem to guide him down that path. It was a long trip from Australia to the United States, one proposed at the insistence of his mother. They sleep together, Michael and he, without any objection from the mother. The adult Wade recounts what happened at night, and the tears in his eyes are precisely moving, but logic calls into question his narration and his version of the story. How is it that after denying so much he insists on accusing Michael? Doesn't his testimony come a little late? How is it that all the accusations of him come after the death of the singer? Something is wrong, no doubt.
On the other hand we have James Safechuck, a white man with too expressive eyes for the cameras. The Neverland ranch also marked him forever, such an event is expressed with details along with the sound of agonizing and somewhat childish music. He was also a dancer, he also had big dreams, however such dreams were only used by Michael to abuse him, or that is the testimony that James narrates throughout the scenes. You can see that the memory is really painful for him, that it is difficult for him to relate those bitter experiences. Is he telling the truth? It may be hard not to believe it, however, the history of events that precede James in reporting him takes away his credibility.
Despite the fact that everything points to the singer's guilt, two important points must be clarified that seem not to fit in all this: First, the rules of veracity require evidence in between. Second, the testimonies implicate two men who once defended Michael with claws and teeth. Wade, for example, had sworn from an early age that the king of pop never touched him, even as an adult, he insisted on Jackson's innocence. All this sexual abuse controversy comes after Michael's death, in a curious economic crisis that shook his pocket. Even the documentary shows us the trials where Wade declared Michael Jackson innocent since he was a child, he being a valuable witness in every event that compromised the singer's integrity.
Now, in his own words, everything he ever said to defend Michael he did because the singer had "brainwashed" him by telling him that if he told the truth they could both go to jail. Perhaps a child can be intimidated and acceded to a threat, however, sooner or later he will show that something is wrong. Watching the documentary, I never noticed in Wade that affliction that normally shakes sexually abused children, on the contrary, he seemed just as happy as ever. But, assuming that this choreographer was actually threatened as a child, why didn't he accuse Michael Jackson when he was still alive? Why did he keep idolizing him? Why did you never show rejection while doing great choreography for him?
These facts make the veracity of the material wobble on a string. James himself, who has been denied dozens of trials, is proof of how fragile and unconvincing his testimony before the law is. Huge lawsuits for thousands of dollars have been imposed by Wade and James to punish monetarily the former King of Pop, but is money the best way to solve a damage as serious as sexual abuse? Obviously, the damages for this deserve jail, how to imprison a dead person? All of these events are lined up perhaps in order to attract money that failed lawsuits did not award. What other reason would there be to make a scandal against the person you once defended and who is also dead?
Another weak point that I could find in Leaving Neverland is that it focuses on only 2 of those involved in the controversies that follow the history of allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson. We only see Wade and James, what about the others who also accused the singer? The narrative focuses on one side of the coin, and no material that is classified as documentary ignores part of the facts that follow a given event
If you are a fan of Michael Jackson you ever had to listen to the case of Evan Chandler, a man who had accused the King of Pop of sexually abusing his son Jordan, however, after his death, the son himself denied the accusation of his father, revealing that it was all a lie to get money in return. Why didn't Dan Reed include Jordan Chandler in his documentary? Didn't his testimony favor the interests projected in the film? From this point on, Leaving Neverland ceases to be compelling material.
My final opinion is clear: Leaving Neverland, although it managed to have a negative effect on the appreciation that some radio stations, museums and television channels had about the singer Michael Jackson, it could not fulfill the characteristics of an iconic documentary of the great screen. Everything seems carefully planned, and crafted to instill contempt and deep hatred.
There is no veracity, there are no more versions than that of two men who, to top it all, once defended the one they now blame. I do not seek to defend the singer, because somehow the issue of the apparent sexual abuse committed by Michael Jackson will haunt him until after his death. I only highlight the incongruity of the testimonies by the narrators and the impudence with which the facts are presumed. Leaving Neverland fell short, because documenting does not mean testifying... that's what the courts are for.