THREE STARS For one boy, childhood was never the same after the arrival of Winnie The Pooh
Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie
PERIOD DRAMA #GOODBYECHRISTOPHERROBIN
Poor Christopher Robin, a young boy robbed of a normal life by his teddy bear, Winnie The Pooh – or more accurately, his father A.A. Milne. Unlike other bear features such as PADDINGTON, GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN eschews the warm-and-fuzzy for a dark telling of one of childhood’s brightest stories.
Milne was already a successful writer when PTSD left him deeply troubled after the horrors of WW1. His solution was to escape to the country where, on a whim, he began to write the stories of Pooh and Piglet, ostensibly for his son Christopher. They became an immediate hit, a ray of happiness in an otherwise troubled world, and were so successful that father and son were forced into a cycle of publicity tours for which neither were even slightly prepared. It came at a great personal cost, destroying the bond between the pair. Although Milne the younger eventually came to an understanding with his father, it’s uncertain that he truly forgave him for turning his childhood into bedside reading for generations to come.
Against instinct, there’s a lot to like about this tale of family dysfunction. Not only does it dare to go where most biopics don’t (inept parenting equals parental abuse), but it also boasts some exceptional scenes between Domnhall Gleeson as Milne and stunning newcomer Will Tilston as his son. He is remarkable, eating the camera for breakfast with a seemingly effortless performance, one that oozes such warmth and charm that it makes the brittle presence of Gleeson even less likeable. It is rather the point of course, and no one would accuse GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN of being particularly subtle.
It’s a handsome film that dares to be different. Yet such is the awkwardness of their relationship it often overwhelms the story, making for a less involving experience than it could, or should be. You understand why he isn’t, yet you so much want for Milne to be a better father. Or Christopher to be less doting. Or for Nanny to simply abduct the boy. One only hopes that Tilston has better minders than Christopher Robin Milne had.