Good­bye Christopher Robin

Brim­stone

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - HI­LARY A WHITE AINE O'CON­NOR

Cert: PG. Now show­ing

There is lit­tle that is as quintessen­tially English as the Win­nie-the-pooh books, even if the char­ac­ter’s iden­tity was ir­re­vo­ca­bly Amer­i­can­ised by Walt Dis­ney (the bizarre Rus­sian ver­sion, Vinni Puh, never caught on with quite the same zeal).

It’s thus a tad be­mus­ing to see this lush biopic of cre­ator AA Milne with a Dubliner (Domh­nall Glee­son), a Scot (Kelly Mac­don­ald) and an Aussie (Mar­got Rob­bie) lead­ing its cast. The home side is ably rep­re­sented, how­ever, by un­rea­son­ably cute child ac­tor Alex Lawther as the tit­u­lar son who was both the in­spi­ra­tion and star of the vast fran­chise.

The thrust­ing of young Christopher Robin into the me­dia spot­light is the hinge of Si­mon Cur­tis’s film. Up un­til then, we see Milne and wife Daphne (Rob­bie, per­haps too mod­ern and man­nered for the part) swan­ning through so­ci­ety life where he is a cel­e­brated play­wright try­ing to man­age the PTSD picked up in the trenches.

Sons and their fa­thers did not frater­nise back then but when Daphne and beloved nanny Olive (Mac­don­ald) are ab­sent for a few days, Milne’s stiff up­per lip loosens as his charm­ing boy sparkles up at him on strolls through the nearby woods. This stretch of Good­bye Christopher Robin is a sun-dap­pled de­light that rings with an au­then­tic regis­ter. Com­pli­ca­tions arise in the third act as magic gives way to emo­tional im­po­tence, teen angst and OAP make-up, which spoils the party rather abruptly.

Club Cert; Now show­ing, IFI

Dutch film­maker Martin Kool­hoven’s first English lan­guage fea­ture is a Euro­pean co-pro­duc­tion rather than a Hol­ly­wood funded one.

Brim­stone has lots of in­ter­est­ing ideas and emo­tions, it’s at­mo­spheric and beau­ti­ful, the great cast are very good, but it gets too caught up in it­self, it’s way too long and there is a hor­ror in it that gets jar­ring af­ter a while.

Set in the late 19th cen­tury in the Amer­i­can Mid­west it opens on two marks on the neck of mute mid­wife Liz (Dakota Fan­ning). Life is harsh but rea­son­able un­til The Rev­erend (Guy Pearce) ar­rives and makes Liz’s life hell, as lit­er­ally as he can. This is Chap­ter 1, Rev­e­la­tion. The next three chap­ters are called Ex­o­dus, Ge­n­e­sis and Ret­ri­bu­tion, pieces of a story told back­wards un­til the de­noue­ment. It works, mostly, ex­cept it ends up beg­ging the ques­tion why Ret­ri­bu­tion didn’t hap­pen in Chap­ter 1. It deals with re­li­gion and misog­yny, con­trol and sex, Pearce is tremen­dously creepy and Fan­ning silently great but it does drag ev­ery­thing out too much. Less would have been more.

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