WCBE

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Nov 2, 2017

You'll pull out this book from your attic after you see Milne's story.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Grade: B+

Director: Simon Curtis (Woman in Gold, My Week with Marilyn)

Screenplay: Frank Cotrell Boyce (Millions, Earth, One Amazing day), Simon Vaughan

Cast: Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), Margot Robbie (The Legend of Tarzan)

Rating: PG

Runtime: 1 hr 47 min

by John DeSando

Not having any serious connection with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the rest of the children’s story, Winnie the Pooh, I am perhaps even more ready than its devotees to admire Goodbye Christopher Robin. It’s a biopic of great sensitivity that mixes nostalgia for the most popular children’s book ever with the harshness of two world wars and the practice of parents leaving their children with nannies in the first quarter of the 20th century.

I now wish I had a stronger relationship with those little critters and that loveable boy, for I could have used the distraction from the aftermath of WWII just as Pooh was able to do for the world after the war to end all wars. Author A.A. Milne (a stoic and yet loveable Domhnall Gleeson) was traumatized by his service in the war, and moved slowly to erase that PTSD while creating Pooh. The film spends too much time on his trauma, but it does help fill out Milne’s character.

Yet, this is the story of Billy Moon (a remarkably-dimpled, serene Will Tilston), as Christopher Robin is called in real life, who supplies his dad with inspirations for the book. The film centers on remote dad’s growing love for the boy and the book while remote mom goes off to London to do who knows what. The film carefully shows how children might be lucky to have a nanny like Neu (Kelly Macdonald) to give them love and some creative inspiration along the way.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a successful biopic because it doesn’t spare the story of anti-helicopter parents who endanger the mental health of their children with their absences.  As fame overtakes the Milne family, the film still relays the sense of wonderment Billy had as a child immersed in love of his forest, animals, and imagination.

The biopic may be counter to what we expected of a world-renowned author of a book for children.  That he had difficulty initially interacting with his own child is unusual, but the film is successful showing how he warms up and creates a masterpiece as well. 

Though not always a feel good movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin makes you wish he’d never go away. It looks like he never will.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com