Portrait of Pooh’s creator bumbles
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.