2017 in Cinema:
Goodbye Christopher Robin, 2017
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Will Tilston
Goodbye Christopher Robin looks at the effects of fame on a young boy who didn’t ask for it. Christopher Robin Milne (Will Tilston) asked his father, famous author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson, American Made), to write a book for him, and A. A. Milne did, using some of Christopher’s stuffed toys as characters, too. That book: Winnie-the-Pooh. This film looks at the fame and success that Winnie-the-Pooh brought to the Milne family, and how young Christopher, who was also the inspiration for the main character in the book, resented the books that had made his family so wealthy.
This story is told beautifully, for the most part, and Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie do a fine job as the upper-class parents (even if Margot Robbie doesn’t necessarily sound authentic with a posh English accent), however full credit needs to be given to the young Will Tilston, who manages to capture the emotion and the childlike happiness brilliantly. His sadness when the fame started taking his childhood and his parents away from him is so upsetting, and it is so because he sells it so well. There is a moment after a birthday phone call from his father (who is on a business trip) makes him so happy only to have a radio announcer speak at the last minute, making young Christopher realise that loving phone call was live on the radio.
However, despite how amazing his performance was, the writing wasn’t as good. It left his mother as a very bland character, who, while she may have done it lovingly, left A. A. Milne to write by going back to London. While it did help him write, it makes her sound like a rich girl fearing his money was running out (by not working) and fleeing before it’s too late (proven more so by her returning as his fame, and Winnie-the-Pooh , rose to high heights). She never came across as a nice character throughout, and I know that the real Christopher had a strained relationship with his mother, not seeing her during her last fifteen years of life, but that part of his life wasn’t written into the film at all, instead portraying a more loving relationship, even with a bland mother.
Another thing I really disliked about this film was the need to have a teenage Christopher. The new actor came in and gave a completely different performance without any of the same qualities that Will Tilston gave. He was just a stroppy teenager who wanted to go to war, before something happened which was then wiped away, and then he said to his father that he hated Winnie-the-Pooh, before A. A. Milne walks with his teenage son, but he sees him back as a child. There could have been so many ways of telling us that Christopher didn’t accept any of the money from the sales of Winnie-the-Pooh, but they also put it on credits at the end so having this new actor just ruined the end, somewhat.
A nice film, with an emotional story played out at a nice pace, but unfortunately the writing wasn’t brilliant, and left a bland mother with an accent that doesn’t suit her. The acting is fine throughout, especially young Will Tilston, and the tone remains emotional.
Plot: * * * Acting: * * * * Writing: * * * Presentation: * * *