Everyone knows the story of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, but not all can say they know the story of how these beloved characters came to be. The newly released “Goodbye Christopher Robin” attempts to change that, and the story isn’t entirely pleasant.
Those familiar with the similar 2013 film showcasing the origin of Mary Poppins, “Saving Mr. Banks,” may understand the idea that the most loved children’s stories can arise from tragic backgrounds, and A.A. Milne’s life and work is no exception.
“Goodbye Christopher Robin” gives insight into Milne’s life post-World War I, after he comes home with PTSD and an inability to go to a party without experiencing wartime flashbacks.
Director Simon Curtis portrayed these images of Milne’s present life and his time in the war incredibly well, seamlessly blending the sound of a bomb dropping into the popping of a champagne bottle. These jarring sounds were few and far between, but they made the point they were trying to — Milne, and all of England, was different after the war.
The famous playwright came back to his enigmatic and conceited wife, Daphne, hoping to pick up right where he left off, only to find that to be impossible. He can’t get out of the mindset of the war, and when Daphne gets pregnant, they decide move to the countryside.
It is here where Milne spends time with his son Christopher Robin, known to his family as Billy Moon. Together they spend time in the woods, creating storylines around Billy’s collection of stuffed animals, giving away to all unaware that Winnie-the-Pooh is an alteration of real-life characters.
Instead of leaving those times playing with his son as happy memories, Milne turned them into a bestselling book. And when the public became obsessed with the real-life story behind their favorite characters, he and his wife proceeded to capitalize on their son’s role as the newly renowned Christopher Robin.
Up to this point in the film, you could almost forgive Milne and his wife for the choices they make. After all, they are just selfish people doing what selfish people do, but after neither parent recognizes the ill effects of this publicity on their son, you start to lose all hope of a redemption arc. And for good reason.
I spent the entire second half of the movie hoping for one of them to recognize that their son wasn’t happy, but neither did.
Despite the lack of love and good parenting in “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” the cast plays their parts incredibly well. Will Tilston, who plays the part of the young Christopher Robin, dazzles you with his dimpled smile and dedication to his father. Domhnall Gleeson is the more stiff and uncompromising Milne, and Margot Robbie is Daphne.
The story isn’t an easy one to tell, but screenwriters Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughan stayed true to the reality of the story, and the cast fully understood their roles in creating this plot.
If you plan on seeing “Goodbye Christopher Robin," you definitely will want to bring a tissue box, but the story told in this movie is important to remember. One thing is still for sure after watching “Goodbye Christopher Robin”: the origin may fade, but the characters never will.
"Goodbye Christopher Robin" will be showing at the Nickelodeon through Nov. 9. Showtimes can be found on their website.