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Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Goodbye Christopher Robin
10.13.2017
6 10

PLOT: The story of A.A Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), creator of Winnie the Pooh, and his complicated relationship with his son (Will Tilston), the real-life basis for Christopher Robin.

REVIEW: Somewhere in A.A Milne’s life story, there was a great movie to be made. A stuffy man, despite being best known for writing the most popular children’s book of all time, he mercilessly exploited his son’s childhood by parading him around in front of the media like a 1920’s version of a Kardashian. This made him a much-despised child by his jealous boarding school classmates, who made his life miserable enough that he refused to ever take a dime from his father’s estate for the rest of his life - that’s how much he resented what had been done to him.

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN goes in to all of that, but opts to emphasize a short, idyllic episode where father and son were left to fend for themselves when mum (Margot Robbie) was partying in London, and his nanny (Kelly MacDonald) was visiting a sick relative. Being forced to play with his precocious son, who his wife forces to wear dresses because she wanted a daughter, is enough to get the elder Milne to write the book that will make him famous - his son be dammed. As shown here, Milne and his loathsome wife are terrible people. But why then does the movie expect you to love them?

And therein lies the major problem with GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Director Simon Curtis (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, WOMAN IN GOLD) has made a movie that attempts to deliver a warts-and-all portrait of the family, but also is afraid to get downbeat at all, making this chockful of childish whimsy the real Christopher Robin never really got to experience. Even a casual glimpse at the real Christopher Robin Milne’s Wikipedia page suggests his life was far more complex than what the film tries to wrap-up in a cuddly, audience-friendly package.

All that said, GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is still not without its charm. Domhnall Gleeson, as always, delivers a good performance, even if he’s saddled with unconvincing aging makeup in the last act. He tries to evoke some humanity from Milne, who’s portrayed as shell-shocked and simply selfish rather than downright exploitative. Margot Robbie, as his wife, is more one-note, with this not being much of a showcase for her - a surprise as she’s usually so excellent. British period drama does not seem to be her forte, and she feels awkward in the part. Of them all, Kelly MacDonald fares the best as the family nanny, who becomes Christopher’s - aka Billy Moon as his family calls him - primary caregiver. Young Will Tilston also evokes a good amount of innocence as the child, but just as the film starts to get really interesting, with him entering boarding school, they abruptly jump forward ten years - cutting arguably the most formative chapter in his life.

As such, GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s a total disservice to Christopher Milne, who would have likely despised his big screen treatment. On the other, it’s fast-paced and beautifully assembled in the way many British period dramas are - making it a solid example of the genre. For what it is, it’s fine - but there was a much better film that could have been made had a more adventurous filmmaker been at the helm.


Source: JoBlo.com

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