Review Goodbye Christopher Robin (2018)
Goodbye Christopher Robin recounts the tale of Winnie-the-Pooh Author A.A Milne and his family in a biographical drama including British actor Domnhall Gleeson as A.A. Milne, Australian beauty Margot Robbie as Milne’s wife Daphne and the Scottish Kelly Macdonald as nanny Olive. Even though the poster and the concept of the very movie might come across as rose-coloured and optimistic, the movie was quite sad.
The story focuses on the life of writer A.A Milne who can’t process his past as a soldier in World War I. Ever since Milne has returned from the war, he suffers with severe PTSD. He isn’t able to resume his writing and decides to relocate to a farm nearby a forest together with his wife and young son, whom he calls ‘Billy’. Billy’s real name is Christopher Robin, a name that might sound very familiar to the audience. Even though the name made the young boy immortal, he doesn’t really identify with it. Winnie-the-Pooh might be one of the most optimistic and lighthearted children books of all-time, the story behind the books is a bit heart-breaking. Christopher Robin was, like any other kid of his age, searching for attention and acceptance from his parents which he never really got. His mother wasn’t too fond of him and always wished to have a daughter so she wouldn’t have to lose another person she loves to a war. As beforementioned, A.A. Milne struggled to function properly after the war and became a shadow of what he ever was. Milne comes across as a stoic, somewhat emotionless person who has never really been a real father to his son. Most of the time Billy was playing with his plush toys he got from his mother, Daphne.
Billy’s nanny, Olive, was more like a mother and father to him than his parents have ever been. The band Christopher and Olive shared was beautiful to see and to see the latter leave him at some point in the movie was very emotional. The two actors who performed young and elder Christoper Robin (Will Tinston and Alex Lawther) together with Kelly Macdonald were the strongest part of the cast and made the movie more likeable. Gleeson was believable as A.A. Milne but I caught myself not caring too much about his character. I do understand that this was the whole point of the character, to make him rather insipid. Gleeson did his best to portray Milne exactly like he was, but it wasn’t too memorable at all. Daphne, portrayed by Margot Robbie, was even more unlikeable than Milne. Robbie undeniably has a lot of charisma and she was quite good in the part she played, but I wished to have seen more of her. Daphne was a bit underdeveloped and became more of a flat character to the end. Even though she was not as emotionless as her husband, she didn’t share a natural bond with her son either. As an audience, we could certainly see that the parents did love their son but their own personal lives were considered more important than their relationship with Billy. During the little time Milne spent playing with his son, he discovered how remarkable his son was and used his son’s childhood (and more specifically his plush toys) to write a story to warm every person’s heart after the traumatic event that was called WWI.
Not knowing how big this would become, Milne found himself absorbed in his job after finally getting recognition for his work. Milne’s wife liked every bit of the public attention and enjoyed the fame. The fame and glory robbed young Billy of his childhood where he had to portray to be the book character most of the time. He had to do lots of interviews, role plays and so on. He never really got to spend time with his parents alone but received maternal love of his nanny Olive instead. It was very sad for Christopher Robin to see the nanny leaving him and thus leaving a big empty hole in his heart. After Olive has left, A.A. Milne begins to understand that he has robbed his own son of his childhood thanks to his fame. He decided to no longer write about Winnie-the-Pooh and to not treat his son as his book character anymore. Some time later, he brings his son to a boarding school where his life changes drastically. After being bullied for years at school, Christopher Robin has lost his optimistic nature and becomes more bitter like his father. With the outbreak of World War II, Billy strongly desires to become a soldier. Even though A.A. Milne had to understand like no other what the consequences of such a traumatic event must be, he helps his son to get his wish fulfilled. Right before Billy leaves his father to serve the country, Milne tries to convince his son to stay with him. He’s reminded of how much he failed as a father when he sees his son leaving him without much regret, knowing that they never might to see each other again.
Not much later, A.A. Milne receives the news that his son is presumed dead. Mr. Milne finally shows a bit of remorse and emotion after he found about the so-called death of his son and decides to tell Olive about it as well. Her finding out about Billy’s death was the most heartbreaking part of the entire movie. At a night, Billy returns home and is reunited with his parents. Again, both parents struggle to convey their emotions whereby the reunion comes across as a bit uncomfortable. The true reunion we’ve waited for is the one between Billy and Olive. The movie ends with A.A. Milne having a talk with his son in the forest and where they’re reminiscing Billy’s childhood, finally putting it in perspective. Billy understands that growing up was a very though job and that Winnie-The-Pooh might be a heartwarming figure in many people’s life, but it destroyed a lot of his own childhood.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is definitely worth checking out as the acting is quite strong and the story behind the famous bear is fascinating and eye opening. The atmosphere and setting are both astonishing and enough reason to see the movie. The movie was a bit too long in my opinion and got a bit long-winded toward the end. Margot Robbie’s Daphne was a bit of a flat, uninteresting character as well (even though Robbie did her best to make her character work, she ultimately failed). The true revelations of the movie are Will Tilston as young Christopher Robin and Kelly Macdonald as his nanny. The beautiful relationship between these two characters was the strongest part of the movie.