Goodbye Christopher Robin is a quintessential delight. Deftly handling both the debilitating impacts of conflicts unimaginable and the delightful insights of childish imagination, the tone is serious without severity, wishful without whimsy. You want to believe that behind the scenes in the Hundred Acre Wood was all sweetness and light, that this should be a bubbly feel-good movie, but the reality is one of fraught relationships, deep regrets and emotional somersaults. Filmed on location in Ashdown Forest, Christopher Robin takes in the natural beauty of that countryside, reveling in the wood and leaves, leading to two of the most striking visual scenes, both outdoors. One sees inverted snowfall as imagination is forced to recede; the other overlaps gorgeously animated pencil illustrations over a walk in the woods.
Hello Domhnall Gleeson! Giving (yet another) excellent performance, Gleeson is superb throughout and has the opportunity to showcase his prodigious range despite Milne’s reservedness. When the thrill of father and son connecting in their make-believe turns topsy-turvy, to be the making of father and the breaking of son, the two Christophers Robin (an astonishingly good debut from Will Tilston first, an emphatic Alex Lawther later) come into their own. They inhabit the celebration and calamity that make up celebrity, charging their emotional scenes with childish yet righteous anger. Kelly Macdonald’s nanny holds family and film together, imbuing tenderness to the inter-war remoteness, and offering the outsider’s eye to this extraordinary tale, so unhappy that it can be hard to bear.
With outstanding performances, a painfully truthful story to tell, and imaginatively artistic flourishes, this Winnie is a winner. A filmic honeypot of Pooh’s honesty, Piglet’s loyalty, Eeyore’s struggles, and Tigger’s enthusiasm, Goodbye Christopher Robin may not tell the story you want to hear, but it’s one you have to see.
CAST: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis
WRITERS: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan
SYNOPSIS: A glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne (Gleeson) and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh.