Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nico Mirallegro, Alex Lawther
Running Time: 107 mins
Release Date: 29/09/2017
When film-makers have tired of the possibilities inherent in adapting classic novels for the screen, they inevitably turn to the source of the source for their inspiration. A brand new biopic about the life of JRR Tolkien has been announced and Ian Fleming has also received this treatment in the past.
The latest figure of literary circles to get the big-screen treatment is Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne in the brand-new Fox Searchlight release GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.
The film opens with A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) returning from service in the First World War, who is present for the birth of his son, Christopher Robin). His emotional wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie) is frustrated at her husband’s struggles to write, even more so when he decides to uproot his family to the country and quits the family home to return to London.
They employ a nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald) who develops a solid bond with their son and through visits to the nearby woods, Milne begins to develop a better one. Out of this, stories of a bear, a pig and a donkey called Eeyore begin to take shape, partly out of Milne’s desire to please his son, but also to lift the spirits of a nation suffering from the effects of worldwide conflict in the trenches….
Given the immense achievements of the author with his Winnie the Pooh books, there are perhaps chapters and experiences missing from this particular version of the Milne story. What’s even more surprising is that considering the tie-in with the animated versions of those books that emerged later, it is Fox rather than Walt Disney not producing this particular film. However, this is only a minor gripe as GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is one of the most enchanting family films about the Pooh legacy.
It is refreshing also to see a film, given recent releases like WAR HORSE and ZERO DARK THIRTY, that suggests the horrors of war without resorting to graphic imagery or gung-ho violence. Milne’s own experiences of the Great War are implied at times, particularly through his overall resistance to loud bangs, be it a balloon or a slamming door.
At times, the performances, although perfect casting in every way, do seem a little short-changed in the overall storyline. Gleeson and Margot Robbie capture the essence of upper-class British life, particularly Robbie who is enchanting in the role of Daphne and mimics the sounds of the characters to please her soon, but the stand-out performance is Will Tilston as Robin, who evokes the wide-eyed wonder of an imaginative child who was then to provide the inspiration for one of the greatest children’s literary classics. Kelly Macdonald, who played Mrs. Walker in last year’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS, really is carving a niche for good wholesome female roles in a nice contrast to her early roles in films like TRAINSPOTTING.
If the film has a legacy in its midst, it will reawaken people’s desire to read the Pooh books to their children and friends and provide the opportunity to discover the man and the child behind Tigger and Co.
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is perfect family entertainment, with no hint of malice within; the ideal way to honour the locals in Pooh Corner.