Goodbye Christopher Robin Blu-ray Review
Some people are haunted and come to resent their greatest accomplishments. This is especially true for A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) or Blue as his friends and family called him. He of course wrote the classic children’s book “Winnie-the-Pooh”. It would come to be the undoing of his family and the author himself.
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN first takes us to 1941 when Blue gets a troubling telegram. It then whisks us back a few decades to World War I and in the trenches of France. Blue is escaping bullets and climbing over dead bodies. The stench and the flies circling the bodies must have stayed with him for the rest of his life. The war is not focused on too long as Blue and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) are dancing at a fancy event, while he tries to forget the troubling events of the war. Blue suffers from disturbing flashbacks and clearly seems to be afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder. But that word wasn’t around back then and veterans would mostly have to suffer in silence as they dealt with this. Daphne on the other hand didn’t understand the troubles Blue was having. She thought he should just buck up and carry on. The war was in the rear view mirror for her and she wanted her husband to treat it this way.
Blue was a successful writer and playwright living in London. But he wanted a simpler life and to get away from the bustle. The couple eventually settles in Sussex. It was quieter and he can work on new material. In his mind, he wants to write an anti-war novel. But the words are not coming to him. Daphne gives birth to their son, Christopher Robin. She really wanted a daughter and was disappointed with the result. Blue is noncommittal at first with his son. He doesn’t really know how to act around him. The film goes ahead to when Christopher (Will Tilston) is eight years old. He goes by Billy Moon. They also by now had a nanny named Olive (Kelly Macdonald) to help with Billy.
Olive provides a stable environment for Billy as chaos swirls around him. Blue is having issues with writing, while his wife is getting increasingly frustrated. She didn’t want to leave the city. Tilston, who plays the young Billy Moon, is a remarkable find for Director Simon Curtis. Tilston is a natural. He doesn’t perform like many young actors where you can see the wheels in their mind turning. He plays like a normal boy and has a connection with the other actors involved. He plays off them with ease.
All of the casting by Curtis is top notch. Gleeson brings a vulnerability to Milne. You can feel the anguish felt by him as he’s fighting the demons of the war and trying to write again. Robbie may have the trickier role. Daphne is not a warm presence and would be seen as a bad mother through modern eyes. But she was doing the best that she could during these times. She was always pushing her husband to be better. The book would probably not be possible without her effort and inspiration. Macdonald as Olive is a perfect voice of reason. She gives Olive the warmth needed here.
The movie takes off when Daphne goes away for a bit and Olive leaves to be with her ailing mother. This is where Blue and Billy Moon finally start connecting. They go on walks together and use their imagination with the stuffed animals. The beautiful countryside is a major benefit here. You can see how anyone can be inspired to create a masterpiece. Billy asks his father to create a story for him. Blue comes up with Winnie the Pooh and his friends. He gets Ernest (Stephen Campbell Moore), an illustrator, to create the images to go with the book. It is neat seeing the illustrations come alive on the screen.
The book of course became a worldwide phenomenon. This brought fame to the whole family and thrust everyone in the limelight. It was not comfortable for Blue and his son. Blue started to resent his creation. Billy didn’t like that people were always calling him Christopher Robin and thinking he was the character. Photo ops, trips and interviews would come and pull the family apart slowly.
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is an interesting glimpse into a beloved author and his most famous creation. The idea being that be careful what you wish for. All the actors involved are fantastic and the scenery is divine.
Video: The use of some of the real locations was a real coup. The brightness and the greens come alive on screen.
Audio: The audio was mostly adequate.
Commentary by Simon Curtis and Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The director and screenwriter go deeply into the story and the characters. They discuss casting and locations. They also take us behind the reasoning of some of their creative decisions.
A Walk in the Woods (2:34): The locations are discussed here.
Healing a Nation (2:11): The aftermath of World War I and how people dealt with this. The book took people back to their childhood and to a simpler time.
A.A. Milne (2:01): This feature is of course about the author.
Hello Billy Moon (2:32): This is where the character is discussed and the remarkable actor who played him throughout most of the film.
Daphne Milne (2:17): The cast and crew delve into the complicated character Daphne was.
The Story (2:24): The creation of the story is talked about.
Christopher Robin and His Nanny Olive (3:18): The strong relationship between these two is dissected.
The Cast (2:32): This is about the casting and the great actors that appeared in the film.
Gallery: These are the still photos from the set.