Goodbye Christopher Robin gives a glimpse into the relationship between beloved children's author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin, 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 many after the First World War but the cost to the family may be greater than any of them anticipated.
On leaving the screening of the film many a reviewer passed me misty and/or red eyed, clearly having had a highly emotional experience. I on the other hand was completely stoic and somewhat angered by this tale of child exploitation and the removal of much of the wonder of a much loved classic book.
Domhnall Gleeson as AA Milne portrays a very arms length father, emotionless for much of the time, partially due to his traumatic experience s in the trenches of WW1. Haunted by his experiences and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, he takes his family to the countryside in order to write a book speaking out against the war and promoting a more peaceful future and inadvertently finds himself writing tales about his son and his imaginary friends. His wife Daphne longs for a return to the city in her pursuit of the high life and indeed is responsible for Milne's first publication 'Vespers' gaining mainstream attention. She too is aloof to her child and is all too easily content to push responsibility for him on to Kelly MacDonald's loving Nanny character who adores the young boy and soften his only source of comforting love.
The performances throughout are wonderful, angered as I was by both Gleeson and Robbie they both deserve credit for achieving such a reaction from me. Kelly MacDonald is the ray of hope in the film and the only saving grace at times in this somewhat tragic tale. I wanted more of her, as I longed for characters to root for and at the moment she intervenes and oversteps her role within the household I wanted to punch the air in celebration.
The tears and emotions from my fellow reviewers were perfectly valid as this is ultimately a sad tale and not the wistful joyful film that the trailer may portray it to be. I think my lack of emotion came from a place of quiet anger. No child should be exploited as this young boy was, the repercussions follow him and haunt him wherever he goes.
There are great performances with Goodbye Christopher Robin that should rightly be praised. However, given the sadness that lies behind the pages of joy Milne created, it is hard to say that this is a film to enjoy.
Goodby Christopher Robin is in cinemas now