Leaving Neverland is a talking-heads horror film — an intimate, obviously believable, sometimes sexually explicit story of two boys — Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, now pushing 40 — who became Michael Jackson’s special “friends” — i.e., lovers, masturbation buddies, fellators — while their more or less oblivious parents went along, thinking that the relationship was more of a kindly innocent bond.
Wake up: Jackson was a finagling fiend, a smooth predator, the kindest serpent.
You should have seen the faces of the audience members during the ten-minute intermission of Leaving Neverland at the Egyptian. They had that look of hollowed-out nausea, submerged disgust…trying to hide their revulsion.
Michael Jackson, Wade Robson sometime around ’88, when Robson was seven or eight.
The Jackson-guilt denialists are finished. Jig’s up. Once this four-hour doc hits HBO, forget it.
Leaving Neverland is also, of course, a very sad story. Damage and dysfunction are passed on and on. You’re only as healthy or sick as the amount of ugly secrets you’re carrying around. Oh, and the two complicit mothers of the victims are dealt tough cards at the end by their trying-to-heal sons.
From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: “[Director] Dan Reed forces us to confront the reality that the greatest pop genius since the Beatles was, beneath his talent, a monster. Leaving Neverland is no thriller, but it’s undeniably a kind of true-life horror movie. You walk out of it shaken, but on some level liberated by its dark expose.”
From David Ehrlich’s Indiewire review: “Steel yourself for specifics, as dancing around them would defeat the purpose of this documentary: Jackson was a man who convinced their most innocent relatives to bend over and spread their butt cheeks while he masturbated to the sight; who forced them to suck on his nipples while he serviced himself; who installed an elaborate system of alarm bells at the Neverland Ranch so that he would hear if anyone was going to walk in on an eight-year-old boy with the pop star’s penis inside his mouth.
“Penetration was a more complicated process, but one that got increasingly possible as the boys grew older. There was even a mock wedding ceremony at one point; the kid involved still can’t bear to look at the ring. The mothers chaperoned many of these vile trysts, oblivious to (or in denial about) what Jackson was doing to their sons behind closed doors. A teenage sibling even defended the pop star in court. She didn’t know any better, but will still regret that decision until the day she dies.”
Incidentally: I waited outside (25 degrees) in a ticket-holders line for 40, 45 minutes. Sundance staff & Park City police (checking bags, wanding everyone) didn’t exhibit the slightest interest in allowing the 9 am screening of Leaving Neverland to start on time. It started at 9:28 am — 9:30 am after the Sundance promos.