The story behind one of the most beloved children’s books, reveals a broken family and a childhood filled with sadness.
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A. A. Milne is a name well known by anyone who’s encountered the world’s most beloved bear—Winnie the Pooh. These whimsical and enchanting stories provided endless happiness and optimism in the wake of the first world war.
In Goodbye Christopher Robin, we learn how the author’s relationship with his son, which provided a means to heal from the mental scars of battle, inspired the characters of Pooh and Tigger and Piglet.
Their much beloved adventures with their human friend, Christopher Robin, became a common source of special memories between parents and children across the world, but sadly, the real Christopher Robin wasn’t enjoying the same.
With his father deeply troubled by post-war trauma, following a brief time together when the characters were created, the true Christopher Robin loses his parents to the success of the books. As the source of inspiration, the young boy also finds himself thrust reluctantly into the public eye—having become a celebrity in his own right.
It seems a cruel irony that a boy now famous for a wondrous childhood story had a rather miserable one. And much of the film centres on how this plays out.
Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story behind the much-beloved children’s stories. It’s a heart-warming film, but for this reviewer (whose heart is perhaps a little cooler) the film was a bit overdone. As much as I loved Margot Robbie’s rather fabulous depiction of Mrs Milne, the father/son relationship and the supposed horrors endured by the son left me feeling that he was just a little spoiled and a little precious.
Harsh words to be sure, but the great encumbrance on this wealthy young boy was that he was seemingly more loved by his warm-hearted nanny, and along with the spoils of special treatment at the zoo, he had to endure a little paparazzi attention and autograph requests.
Some of how the film treats the horrors of war and the mental scars it leaves worked well, but in contrast Christopher Robin’s (or Billy Moon, as he is tiringly called) troubles seem quite standard for his era, and not at all worth nearly two hours of exposition.
Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. I’m sure many people will find this a bittersweet drama a lovely way to explore the origins of Winnie the Pooh. Why not check it out for yourself, and let us know if you agree.
Director: Simon Curtis
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald
Runtime: 1hr 47 mins
Release Date: November 23
Reviewer Rating: 3/5