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Goodbye Christopher Robin Review – Beautifully Made, Award Worthy Performances; Simply Perfect

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Goodbye Christopher Robin, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, brings to the screen a beautiful glimpse into the family and childhood, the drama, the mental anguish, the heartbreak and hope that inspired A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books.

Directed by Simon Curtis, Goodbye Christopher Robin stars Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Tilston, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Campbell Moore, and Alex Lawther and was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughn.

Goodbye Christopher Robin opens with a bird’s eye view of the 100 Acre Woods as the camera pans the lush greenery, knotted trees, well-worn pathways, of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England, just outside London which is where we first meet Daphne Milne, played by Margot Robbie and Alan A.A. Milne, played by Domhnall Gleeson.

On this day, Daphne is tending her rose bushes and Alan busying himself about when the local postal carrier, arriving by bicycle, is shown on her way. Handing the telegram to Alan, he opens it, and given the year, the memories shown of a lovely mop top little boy with a bowl haircut, we, the audience can gather the news is grim.

Overwhelmed by grief, A.A. takes a cherished possession, given to him by his son as he boarded the train to the front to fight against Hitler, and throws it into the air.


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The moment serves as a transition point and now we are in the trenches of W.W.I, with the dead and dying all around, bombs bursting over the night sky, the horrors of the Western Front vivid and suddenly he rushes through a door and he is in a ball with his lovely Daphne who recognizes immediately his post-traumatic stress and guides him back to the moment.

Here we meet Earnest, played by Stephen Campbell Moore, who is as we are told, is the best illustrator in England and we also find out A.A. is considered the best Playwright in London. 

As life is Daphne and A.A. have a child, Christopher Robin, also known as Billy Moon, and as we gather Daphne is lovely and somewhat detached as a mother. Her desire for a girl, wasn’t based in preference but in sorrow as she repeats, she can’t imagine investing a life of loving someone knowing one day they will put on a uniform and go off to war.

As it becomes Billy Moon, played by Will Tilston, becomes the center of everyone’s attention and the time has come for a Nanny. Ms. Milne, every bit the socialite decides Olive, played by Kelly MacDonald, who’s references are impeccable is just the status symbol they need to continue to be the "it" couple of London’s West End.

Of course her husband, who suffers with PTSD, which is triggered by anything decides the countryside is what they need and so off they go, with a disgruntled but lovely Daphne, a happy child, and live-in Nanny, Olive, to the new home.

Daphne, of course, agrees with one caveat, that A. A. write. The country home is not an escape to avoid life and writing duty, it is to write, to create and as long as he does she will stay content thirty miles outside her social circle.

As Billy and Olive arrive at the house, Daphne rushes to the car and introduces her son to Edward the Bear, and soon she brings him a collection of well-known stuffed animals that become part of the circle of friends of Winnie-The-Pooh.

What follows is a charming, delightful and inspiring story of how the best known and loved children book series in the world came about with the help of a little boy, his father, mother and a friend and of course the pitfalls of international stardom and fame.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is perfection. An delightful film, that allows a genuine look into the lives, the ups and downs, of the relationship between A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin.  

More than enchanting and appealing, Goodbye Christopher Robin presents the duality of relationships as the unpretentious A.A. and his beautiful, talented, fame minded, and sometimes pretentious wife Daphne seem to be opposites and yet she is her husband’s biggest fan and believer in his talent and she introduces her son to the family of forest animals that would soon grace every child’s library in the known world.


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Will Tilston who plays Christopher Robin/Billy Moon as a child captures the world of every young boys imagination. One may say,  'isn’t a child actor playing a child simply playing himself?' I have been told by child actors, "We are all actors, not defined by age."

So Tilston becomes this portrait of inspiration, a child with a vivid imagination, who's parents who are eccentrically creatives and yet fun, and loving, if they don't always know how to show it.

His character is taken over by Alex Lawther as an adult and of course, as the world is facing a new threat, the boy who became known wants to become anonymous and his only desire to fight, along with the many other sons who never returned he set off believing if death was his destiny then so be it and honestly the guilt would be on his father’s head for being so damned creative.  

Margot Robbie will win an Oscar someday as her performances continue to grown and present a rich depth. In Goodbye Christopher Robin, her performance, as a loving wife, detached mother, born to be socialite, and finally, as life comes full circle and she allows herself to show her feelings she gives an Oscar worthy performance.  

The entire cast, Donhnall Gleeson, who breathes life of A.A. Milne, the reluctant author, who creates to win back his lovely Daphne, and when writing from the heart wins the world; And Earnest, Stephen Campbell Moore, who finally admits to his PTSD and then sets out to the task at hand.

Each of these characters faced the terror of war and the shock and panic of PTSD before the memories, the symptoms, had a name or treatment, and they each paused for a moment and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and took to the task at hand.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a must see film. More than an escape from the action driven box office, the film travels back to a time when a boy and his bear wandered in the 100 Acre Woods looking for honey and allows us to see that greatness doesn’t come easy.

Goodbye Christopher Robin opens in theaters everywhere October 13, 2017. See it. 

 

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