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Goodbye Christopher Robin review – delightful take on the difficult birth of Winnie-the-Pooh | Biopics | The Guardian

Goodbye christopher robin movie review

With its bittersweet interweaving of reality and fantasy, youthful innocence and adult trauma, this story of the making of a children’s classic could have been called Saving Mr Milne. Like Mary Poppins, Winnie-the-Pooh occupies a sacred space in our hearts and anyone who wants to co-opt some of that magic should tread very carefully. director simon curtis’s film could easily have stumbled (as piglet) and popped his balloon as it conjures up a dappled glade of happiness surrounded by the monstrous specters of two world wars. instead, he nimbly jumps between light and dark, war and peace, like a child finding his way through an English forest, albeit drenched in rays of sugary, Spielbergian light.

We open in Ashdown Forest in 1941, where the arrival of a telegram heralds tragedy – the title’s farewell? It’s a moment around which writer Frank Cotrell-Boyce (from an original screenplay by A Bear Named Winnie, co-writer Simon Vaughan) builds his cleverly structured narrative, weaving together the fantastical adventures of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and others with life. real. battles of its creators father and son. Dating back to 1916, we find Domhnall Gleeson’s Milne (“Blue” to his friends) in the trenches of France, whose horror haunts him as he returns to a life of blighty glitz.

Leaving London for rural East Sussex, where he intends to write an anti-war book (despite the protests of his socialite wife, Daphne), Milne finds himself stuck, until he gives a A walk with his young son, Christopher Robin, in his “hundred-acre paradise” brings unexpected beauty. “Are we writing a book?” asks the boy everyone calls “billy moon”. “I thought we were just having fun.”

credited with rekindling the joy snuffed out by the great war, milne’s innocent poems and stories become an international sensation. But such success comes at a price, as young Billy finds his perfect childhood up for sale. “If I’m in a book,” he protests, “people will think I’m not real,” a problem that was intensified when his parents proceeded to put him on display “like a show pony.” When Billy is photographed alongside his toy bear’s real-life namesake at London Zoo, the fact that they are both imprisoned in a public enclosure is not lost on them.

With his pudding bowl hair and gender-neutral robes (kudos to costume designer odile dicks-mireaux), young will tilston as billy looks like the spit from eh shepard’s timeless illustrations, so much so that the director curtis is able to glide from live action to smoothly animated illustration with perfect ease. Whether he’s putting on his boots or dragging his bear up the stairs, these images have a warm familiarity and tap into great sources of affection.

Meanwhile, the script manages to reproduce the greatest hits: the boy kneeling at the foot of the bed; the “hot is so hot” in the bathroom; the circular footprints in the snow; bees only care about making honey. A game of cricket in the garden evokes memories of the hope and glory of John Boorman, while flashbulbs and popped champagne corks of success transport Milne back to the blood-soaked fields of France.

The highly versatile

gleeson is excellent as milne, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, who “has had enough of making people laugh. I want them to notice!”. – an ambition Daphne sees as “perfectly horrible”. as Christopher Robin’s brittle mother (“Are you my manager?”), Margot Robbie pulls the short straw; hers is an unpleasant role, rather without nuances in her opportunism. Instead, Kelly Macdonald wins hearts as Oliva (aka “Nou”), Billy Moon Poppins’ babysitter who becomes both the moral anchor and emotional lightning rod at the center of the film. As the older Christopher Robin, Alex Lawther elevates later-life resentments above the level of mere petulance against parents, which is no small feat.

Throughout, Carter Burwell’s score jingles and rises, employing piano and harp to mercilessly tug at the heartstrings, assisted by Al Bowlly’s 1939 recording of a man and his dream. It says a lot about the cottrell-boyce script that the deeper themes of betrayal and despair, that Frankenstein-like feeling of being overshadowed and undone by creation itself, survive amidst the schmaltz.

In the end, though, it’s those dusty rays of optimistic light that linger, bathing the film in a calming glow. Fittingly, Farewell Christopher Robin is dedicated to the late producer Steve Christian, who died earlier this year, and to whose extensive legacy this is an excellent tribute.

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