Good­bye christo­Pher robin

Brings a Hef­falump to your throat…

Total Film - - Contents - James Mot­tram

An ab­so­lute pile of Pooh.

CER­TIFI­CATE Pg DI­REC­TOR si­mon cur­tis STAR­RING Domh­nall glee­son, Mar­got Rob­bie, Kelly Mac­don­ald, Phoebe wallerBridge, will Til­ston, alex lawther SCREEN­PLAY Frank cot­trell Boyce, si­mon vaughan DIS­TRIB­U­TOR Fox searchlight RUN­NING TIME 107 mins

One of the most fa­mous chil­dren’s char­ac­ters of all time, the honey-steal­ing bear Win­ni­ethe-Pooh is beloved the world over. Far less is known about his cre­ator, A.A. Milne, whose life was shaped by trauma in the trenches and drama on the home front: Milne had dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ships with his wife, Daphne, and son Christo­pher Robin, the in­spi­ra­tion for Pooh’s boy­hood friend.

Scripted by Si­mon Vaughan and Frank Cot­trell Boyce – the lat­ter’s past biopics in­clude the out-there Tony Wil­son story 24 Hour Party Peo­ple and the more con­ven­tional Jac­que­line du Pré tale Hi­lary And Jackie – Good­bye

Christo­pher Robin be­gins with Milne (Domh­nall Glee­son) re­turn­ing from World War 1 to Lon­don high so­ci­ety to join his spir­ited spouse, Daphne (Mar­got Rob­bie).

Soon preg­nant, Daphne en­dures a dif­fi­cult birth with Christo­pher Robin, whom they nick­name Billy Moon. As Billy (Will Til­ston) gets older, his fa­ther – in search of tran­quil­lity – moves the fam­ily to the Sus­sex coun­try­side. While Billy set­tles in nicely with the help of fam­ily nanny Olive (Kelly Mac­don­ald), Daphne’s ad­just­ment to this ru­ral re­treat is any­thing but smooth.

Not that Milne no­tices: still shell­shocked by his wartime ex­pe­ri­ences, he re­solves to write an anti-war piece. But with Daphne tak­ing an ex­tended trip to Lon­don, aban­don­ing her du­ties to party with whomever she can, the frus­trated author is left to bond with Billy, whose strong­est emo­tional ties are to Olive.

Amid this, the toy bear given to Billy by his par­ents – not for­get­ting the don­key Eey­ore, the tiger named Tig­ger and oth­ers – be­come in­spi­ra­tions for Milne to cre­ate his 1926 col­lec­tion of short stories Win­nie-The-Pooh, fea­tur­ing il­lus­tra­tions by his friend Ernest Shep­ard (Stephen Campbell Moore), which be­comes a best­seller.

Directed by Si­mon Cur­tis (My Week With Mar­i­lyn), the film’s emo­tional grist ar­rives as Billy be­comes an un­wit­ting celebrity. With the boy who in­spired Christo­pher Robin now an un­for­tu­nate PR tool, Billy’s search for his own iden­tity is con­fused with that of Pooh’s fic­tional friend. Only as he be­comes a young man (Alex Lawther) does this child­hood trauma be­come clear.

Cur­tis’ work isn’t per­fect. Milne’s PTSD is poorly rep­re­sented, no­tably in the scene where he and Billy are in the woods and buzzing in­sects bring back mem­o­ries of bombs. But a re­strained Glee­son does his best play­ing a man who isn’t easy to like. Rob­bie, with a fault­less English ac­cent, and the ever-re­li­able Mac­don­ald, are also cred­i­ble, help­ing build to­wards a mov­ing fi­nal chap­ter.

THE VER­DICT

An en­gross­ing biopic. More than just an­other author/cre­ation story, Cur­tis’ film has things to say about celebrity, wartime and fam­ily.

A.A. Milne and Christo­pher Robin do­ing a lit­tle Pooh in the woods.

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