Avid fans of the classic “Winnie-the-Pooh” books and poems will be mildly shocked at the traumatic and unsettled mindset behind the most popular children’s storybook character of all time.
A.A. Milne, a playwright in London who served on the frontlines of World War I, penned the huggable bear series amidst horrific wartime flashbacks that caused dreadful stress throughout his personal life and family.
Extraordinary screen talent Domhnall Gleeson (“The Revenant”) perfectly projects the reclusive author Milne, forced to relocate to a 100-acre-estate in England to decompress and calm his post-war thoughts. Fighting a major case of writer’s block, Milne must embrace fatherhood and a wife (Margot Robbie) nearing her wit’s end trying to help him with his post-traumatic war emotions.
“Goodbye, Christopher Robin” is a film with an introduction and first few chapters spread out a bit too long, inducing several slower moments between telling developments of a young son growing up: Christopher Robin Milne. The awkward and painful relationship endured by Christopher Robin (aka “Billy Moon”) with his father and is heartbreaking to watch at times. Likewise, the children’s book created about him creates other challenges for the younger Milne as he matures and leaves home.
This film is an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the comfort and safety provided from the Winnie-the-Pooh series for over 90 years. British director Simon Curtis (2011’s “My Week with Marilyn”) nicely illustrates the inspiration for developing and naming Winnie, along with background on several other of Pooh’s book pals.
Most intriguing of all in “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” is the notion that the first person to find their fears and pain alleviated by “Winnie-the-Pooh” was the author penning the poems and stories. After a slightly drawn out beginning, the film’s final two acts are fascinating to see unfold. All the “Winnie-the-Pooh” characters, those inside the books or those responsible for creating them, are either merchandised or aged. As the “Winnie-the-Pooh” franchise takes off, so does the movie.
“Goodbye, Christopher Robin” is one of the year’s most anticipated and award-buzzing films slated for 2017. Seen in only 262 theaters nationwide right now, look for more publicity for this movie and franchise in the coming weeks. Do I think it’ll earn a Best Picture nomination? Not likely. Is this a toddler-friendly big screen story? Not at all. But “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” is an interesting and worthy story to watch. Particularly with its endurance and popularity over the years now approaching the century mark.