Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston, Alex Lawther, Stephen Campbell Moore
Runtime: 1 hr 47 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/goodbyechristopherrobin/
Opening Day: 26 October 2017
Synopsis: GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children's author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?
Not every story has a happy ending and not every author leads a happy life. For instance, the celebrated British writer, A. A. Milne, the man behind Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends from Hundred-Acre-Wood. More accurately, Goodbye Christopher Robin is not just a biography about A. A. Milne but also a touching story behind his son, the real-life Christopher Robin.
In the 1920s, Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) has just returned from World War I, the war that ends all war according to the man although those who know our history knows it’s far from the truth. Seeing that he is despondent and gloomy, his socialite wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie) decides to have a child with him. Unfortunately, the arrival of Christopher Robin aka “Billy Moon” (Will Tilston) didn’t improve matters much.
After a painful time in West End London, Milne who also suffers from PTSD and writer’s block moved the entire family to countryside Sussex in search of inner peace. While Daphne finds excuses to party away and Milne hides in his room to write, Christopher Robin is left in the care of his dutiful nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald). When Olive has to go on leave to take care of her ailing mother, Milne has no choice but to take over nanny duty and that is when the inspiration of writing about the adventures of Winnie starts to come alive as the father-and-son pair takes frequent hikes in the nearby forest, played cricket and bond like never before.
Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn), Goodbye Christopher Robin is very much an eye-opener for anyone who grew up on the Disneyfied cartoon characters instead of the original Milne’s written works. We are definitely sure that no one will know that Milne and his wife are in fact absent, distant parents who has no qualms leaving their young son while they went partying. While later on, the success of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories turned the real-life Christopher Robin into a media magnet, something the boy is unable to comprehend at such young age. Like the grown-up Christopher Robin says angrily to his dad, “the book is for me, not about me!”
Fame comes at a price and it sort of destroyed the family further when Milne sent his young son to a boarding school where he is frequently bullied for being Christopher Robin. The movie deals with heavy issues liked PTSD (the buzzing sounds from bees reminds Milne of buzzing flies around corpses) and lousy parenting skills obviously. The leisurely pacing allows the biopic to touch more on the latter than the former as there are consequences resulting from Milne’s inept parenting. The tearjerking moment comes right at the end when Christopher Robin has a brutal, heart-to-heart talk with his father at the train station before he set off to fight the war.
The movie is filled with incredible acting especially Domhnall Gleeson and his chemistry with newcomer Will Tilston. Gleeson who will next be seen as General Hux in The Last Jedi puts in a mesmerising performance and Tilston shines with his megawatt cuteness. Given her limited screentime, Margot Robbie has little to show for her rather unlikeable Daphne and Kelly Macdonald is excellent as the Nanny with a heart and a conscious. The cinematography and production design while modest is rich enough for the setting and fans of Winnie-the-Pooh will find little familiar references in Simon Curtis movie. In the league of the original written works, this is an emotionally thoughtful biopic that makes you think a little more the next time you see a stuffed Pooh or Tigger.
(A worthwhile poignant journey into the world of A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin)
Review by Linus Tee