Goodbye Christopher Robin
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.