#REVIEW: “GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
The basics about Winnie the Pooh are well-known: Christopher Robin was based on a real boy, and the bear shared his name with a proud Canadian city. It turns out the one piece of that story we were all missing was the utter misery the real Christopher Robin’s felt about the books. In Goodbye Christopher Robin, Screenwriters Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughan introduce the world to a dysfunctional family and a deeply-unhappy little boy.
Upon his return from the war, Playwright Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) suffers from undiagnosed PTSD and resents his place in London society as someone who must make light of a post-WWI Britain. The decision to move his family to the country where he plans to write a book does not thrill his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) who swears they will return to London the moment the book is written. Their son Christopher Robin, who goes by Billy Moon, is happy to explore the nearby forest with his father and his stuffed bear, Edward. Inspired by his time with Billy, Alan writes a series of books about Christopher Robin and his bear Winnie the Pooh.
What follows is the story of a child star who was beloved by a public who thought he was the boy from their books and used by parents who thought marketing their son was a good idea. Billy’s growing disenchantment with the books is the meat of the story as he fights to maintain an identity separate from the image in his father’s stories.
The entire Movie hinges on the performance of young Will Tilston. Even when Billy is being a brat, the audience is so enraptured by Tilston that he is forgiven. To give such a large role to a newcomer was a brave move on Director Simon Curtis’ part that paid off. Tilston’s ability to juggle emotional scenes alongside playful ones would be admirable in actors three times his age.
Despite some over-the-top moments, the adult cast hold their own. Kelly Macdonald’s Olive is the nanny we all wish we had while Robbie is perhaps the worst mother since Cinderella’s stepmother. The contrast makes Billy’s decision to refer to both his parents by their given names more understandable.
You would be hard-pressed to find a child who didn’t love Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. And deep down many people longed to join Christopher Robin on his adventures with Tigger, Eeyore, and the gang. This Movie doesn’t change that desire but it does taint the memories. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a good Movie for those willing to leave the stuffed animals and nostalgia at the door.
Fox Searchlight release GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN on Friday, October 13, 2017.