Goodbye Christopher Robin Review
Goodbye Christopher Robin starring Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie tells the story of author A.A. Milne and the inspiration that lead to the creation of the world’s most beloved literary series, Winnie the Pooh.
Domhnall Gleeson plays A.A. Milne, the writer behind Winnie the Pooh. The film opens with Alan (nicknamed Blue by his loving wife, Daphne) returning to London after serving in World War I. Right from the beginning; we get a glimpse of Alan’s difficulty returning to a world after experiencing the horrors of war. Daphne (Margot Robbie) attempts to help to get him back to normalcy by pushing him to begin writing again. However, despite her best efforts, the devastating nature of war continues to haunt Alan.
Alan believes that moving to the country will help him escape and be in a more peaceful place, so they move to Sussex. They continue their little lives and have a child named Christopher Robin Milne which they later change to Blue Moon. Alan and Daphne love their son, but most of his caring is done by his nanny, Olive who he refers to as Nou (Kelly Macdonald). Their relationship gets stronger as Blue and Daphne travel back and forth to the city. Once Olive is called away to help her sick mother, Daphne abandons them to head to London until Blue promises to write more. This leaves Blue and Blue Moon alone together where they begin to bond and learn about one another. In the process, characters from the Hundred Acre Wood are born, and Blue starts to write a book based on these now beloved characters.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is the origin story of Winnie the Pooh that doesn’t sugarcoat the facts while preserving everything that Winnie the Pooh means to millions of people. The comments on the fleeting nature of childhood are poignant. One of the best lines of the movie is when Christopher Robin says “my childhood was great, but growing up was hard.” The film handles what appears to be a complicated father-son relationship very well. The film succeeds in showing the duality of the story, particularly with Blue. His PTSD haunts him in the most unforeseeable moments and grounds the story in reality.
The visuals help to enhance this theme for the audience. There is a scene where Blue and Blue Moon are pretending to be in the woods in winter and Blue is struck by a moment of PTSD. As he calms down and they begin walking away, the snow starts to recede into the sky. This scene is so visually striking and beautiful, making it one of my most memorable scenes in the film. Once Blue begins writing the book, we see the real-life Christopher Robin transform to and from the original Winnie the Pooh drawings. The result is enchanting.
Domhnall Gleeson is mesmerizing as Blue. His character has very distinct moments that contrast with each other within a few minutes. One minute he is a loving father walking in the woods with his son and the next minute, he is a petrified soldier clinging to life in the trenches of war. He plays the torment of his character so well by giving us visions of a man caught between times and worlds while trying to create something meaningful. His emotional scenes are gripping and moving, bringing Blue to life. Margot Robbie gives a decent performance, but the real strong female character is Nou played by Kelly Macdonald. As Blue Moon’s nanny, she gives a moving performance as his biggest advocate and caretaker. Her love and tenderness come through so well, giving us a real character to love. Finally, Will Tilston as the young Blue Moon gives an excellent performance. The role was pretty demanding considering its significance, and he rose to the challenge.
While some parts of the story seem rushed, we still got a sneak look into the lives of real people behind the story that captivated the world, Winnie the Pooh. When the tale spans such an extended period and handles such iconic characters, there are bound to be a few snags along the way, but Goodbye Christopher Robin still triumphs. It is a beautiful story that gives us a real look into the lives behind the creation of Winnie the Pooh. Through the suffering and depression of a man facing the lasting effects of war, we get characters that have brought happiness and joy to the world. Goodbye Christopher Robin gives us a look at that humanity and the beauty that can come from the purest joys of childhood.