Review of 'Goodbye Christopher Robin'

goodbye_christopher_robin.jpg This biopic tells the story of Christopher Robin who was the inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. His father, Alan Alexander Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) - nick-named “Blue” - returns from fighting in World War I to his rather insensitive wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) in London. She gives birth to a son they call “Christopher Robin” (Will Tilston at age 8 and Alex Lawther at age 18) but nick-name “Billy Moon”. Daphne is alarmed at the mechanics of giving birth and disappointed that it is not a girl. They hire a compassionate nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald), to take care of Billy Moon as Daphne prefers instead to continue as a socialite. Blue suffers flashbacks to the trauma of his experiences in the war and struggles to return to his life as a writer. He moves the family to a house in the country in the hopes it will spark his creativity. Daphne resents the move and returns to London then a short time later Olive leaves to take care of an ailing relative leaving father and son alone in the house. Billy Moon insists on his father taking him for walks during which Blue starts making up stories about his son's stuffed toys. Blue brings in an illustrator friend and expands the stories, eventually publishing them to great acclaim. As success envelopes the family it does little to bring it any further together with a resentful Billy Moon used to promote the books.

“Goodbye Christopher Robin” is very much the story of a dysfunctional family from even before they were made famous by the Pooh books. A wife more interested in the social scene than in her husband or son, a husband who is so caught up in himself he sees little of what is going on around him and a son whose only experience of love is from his nanny. Not quite the fun you might expect from a film telling the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh. Indeed, the fictional character only makes a few appearances with the plot primarily focused on the lives of the family and the troubled young Billy Moon who struggles to distance himself from his father's characters and find his own way in life resulting in eventual tragedy. This is a story of tragedy and pathos in the midst of huge success – proving that fame does not necessarily equal happiness despite the superficial joy the parents experience on the success of the books.

Will Tilston is remarkable as the young Billy Moon completely distanced from his mother and struggling to engage with his father. His performance is utterly convincing a perfectly nuanced portrayal of such a lonely boy. Margot Robbie is cool and dispassionate as she looks out for number one throughout, heartlessly throwing away her family for any advancement in social standing. As the troubled author Domhnall Gleeson convinces with his character's personal turmoil at the cost of everyone around him. As the nanny Kelly Macdonald is the most human of the lot, giving up much of her own personal life in the care of the neglected Billy Moon.

A tragic and sad story of one of the most iconic children's fictional character of all time. Part biopic, part Shakespearean tragedy, this is not a film of joy but one of several powerful cast performances.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2022-02-13

Directed by: Simon Curtis

Studio: DJ Films

Year: 2017

Length: 107 minutes

Genre: Melodrama