Por­trait of Pooh’s cre­ator bum­bles

Ottawa Sun - - SHOWBIZ -

In the 1920s, A.A. Milne gave a world reel­ing from World War I gen­tle books in­spired by his only child and the boy’s stuffed-an­i­mal friends. The Bri­tish au­thor ren­dered them in verse and prose, brim­ming with hu­mour and nes­tled among per­fect il­lus­tra­tions by E.H. Shep­ard.

In­spired by Ann Th­waite’s 1990 bi­og­ra­phy of the au­thor and the mem­oirs of Christo­pher Milne — A.A.’s son — the script, while well­re­searched, is stuffed with more shifts in time and tone than it can grace­fully han­dle. Though Good­bye Christo­pher Robin has mo­ments of de­light and even pro­fun­dity, and looks-PBS pretty, too of­ten it stum­bles.

From the triv­ial to the se­ri­ous — rang­ing from an awk­ward close-up of smudged makeup to in­con­sis­ten­cies of char­ac­ter — di­rec­tor Si­mon Curtis doesn’t pull the thing to­gether. Milne’s wife, Daphne (Margot Rob­bie), for ex­am­ple, is al­ter­nately por­trayed as flighty, dis­tant and af­fec­tion­ate, with each it­er­a­tion seem­ingly un­re­lated to the last.

Domh­nall Glee­son strug­gles, too, play­ing the writer as an in­tro­verted, shell­shocked vet­eran whose moods shift abruptly. Yet there are plea­sures. Fa­ther and son have a charm­ing time bond­ing. One mem­o­rable se­quence shows Milne and Shep­ard wan­der­ing in the Sus­sex coun­try­side with lit­tle Christo­pher and his bear in tow.

Good­bye Christo­pher Robin opens in select cities to­day and ex­pands across Canada Oct. 27.

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