Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) – Film Review
Goodbye Christopher Robin explores the origin of the much-loved Winnie The Pooh stories but the story itself has another level for modern fans.
Alan Alexander Milne (Domnhall Gleeson) is a successful West End playwright and humorist for Punch who has returned from the Great War to his upperclass wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) but is suffering from shell shock (post traumatic stress disorder).
Sudden noises, bright flashing lights, and insects trigger flashbacks to a war he never wants to see again so he resolves to move into the Sussex countryside with Daphne who has given birth to a son, Christopher Robin – whom they nickname Billy Moon – in a bid to help her husband heal, and a Scottish nanny who Christopher Robin dubs ‘Nou’ (Kelly Macdonald).
Alan has a severe case of writer’s block but soon begins to engage with his son on walks around the idyllic countryside and woods around their house while Daphne flits back to London until he begins writing again.
The forest which became the Hundred Acre Wood is beautifully realised throughout the film with shafts of golden light illuminating fond memories for young Christopher Robin.
Inspiration finally comes for Alan when he begins to write stories about the toys that Daphne gave to Christopher Robin and fame and success soon follows when Daphne sends a poem called ‘Vespers’ to Vanity Fair magazine and it’s published.
With fame on both sides of the Atlantic following there follows what can only be described a as a gradual loss of innocence of young Christopher Robin as the overnight fame is monetised by the Milnes who are caught up in what effectively becomes a huge money-making promotional operation much to the dismay of Nanny Nou who seems to the only one who sees the effect it’s having on young Christopher Robin.
It all looks very gentle from a brief glance but there are echoes for today’s social media generation in the dangers of overexposing children to inadvertent fame and the resulting consequences on a their wellbeing later in life.
Both Alan and Daphne aren’t entirely sympathetic characters – although Alan is initially shell-shocked – and both characters are slightly stilted parents with Margot Robbie’s Daphne particularly unsympathetic in this story but both are balanced by great performances by Kelly Macdonald and Will Tilston and Alex Lawther as young and older Christopher Robin to bring the beating heart to the story.
The end, when it comes, is a sure-fire tearjerker having been hinted from the very beginning of the film and made all the more impactful as I didn’t know much about Christopher Robin beyond the stories he was in although the film ends with a set of factual captions which explain what happened later.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (PG; mild war violence; 107 minutes)
Director: Simon Curtis
Cast Includes: Domnhall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther
Summary: GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a biopic about the relationship between author A.A. Milne and his son, who inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories.
Rating: **** (A touching end of childhood for Christopher Robin in a Winnie the Pooh origin story )