Goodbye Christopher Robin, rated PG
Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the heart-breaking story of the relationship between Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin. The film is well directed and written, beautifully filmed and features some solid performances, particularly from the adorable Will , who plays the young Christopher.
The film is directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn, Women in Gold), and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (The Railway Man, Millions) and Simon Vaughan. The film was released forty years after Disney’s 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The film is set in three different time periods. A.A. (Alan) Milne is portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn, Star Wars, Bill Weasley in Harry Potter). Milne, referred to as Blue, is a writer, and returns from World War I with what we would call today post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He is married to Daphne, played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). Daphne is not portrayed as a very likeable character at all.
In an attempt to improve their marriage, the couple has a boy in 1920, named Christopher Robin; however, they are not good parents at all. They hire Olive, a nanny played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire, The Girl in the Café), to look after Christopher. Olive is a Christian who teaches Christopher to pray. Christopher grows closer to Olive, who he calls Nou, than he does his own parents, as she seems the only one to truly love him.
The second section of the film will most likely be viewer’s favorite.
We see the family move to the country. A.A. is still having trouble writing. Daphne, a socialite, leaves for London, and Olive leaves to care for her mother who is ill. Christopher, who was called by his family Billy Moon and nicknamed C.R., and his father finally bond over long walks through the woods. We see how Christopher’s toys become those familiar characters (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, etc.), in Milne’s children’s stories. Christopher asks his father to write a book for him, but, when Milne publishes Winnie the Pooh in 1926, and it becomes wildly popular, Christopher’s childhood is turned upside down as he becomes a celebrity and exploited by his parents.
The third section of the film has Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) portraying the 18-year-old Christopher Robin. His fame has made him a target for bullying at a boarding school. He desires to serve in World War II.
The film was beautifully shot on location in Oxfordshire, Surrey, East Sussex, and London by cinematographer Ben Smithard (The Man Who Invented Christmas). I enjoyed the costumes in the film and the musical score provided by two-time Oscar nominee Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carol). The film is about the author and inspiration for the most popular childrens’ books of all time, but it is certainly not a film for children. It is emotional, nostalgic, touching and heart-breaking.
Themes in the film include parenting, father-son relationships, childhood, family, and fame.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is a well-made film, but it is one that is often painful to watch.