Goodbye Christopher Robin (4 stars)

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Sensitive biopic of Winnie-the-Pooh author AA Milne, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie

A literary biopic, familial drama and plea for peace, Simon Curtis's Goodbye Christopher Robin is the story of AA Milne, the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh. While the honey-loving bear became one of the world's most famous children's characters, Milne's biography is less well known. A former officer in the British Army, Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is first glimpsed here in the aftermath of World War I, as he returns to normal life with his socialite wife Daphne (Margot Robbie).

After Daphne gives birth to their son, Christopher Robin – whom they nickname 'Billy Moon' – Milne decides to retreat to the Sussex countryside, much to his wife's annoyance. With a nanny (Kelly Macdonald, excellent) hired for the boy, Milne turns his attention to children's literature when the public show little interest in his desire to write in condemnation of the war. Inspired by Christopher Robin (Will Tilston) and the toys he plays with, Milne's first Pooh book becomes a sensation.

At its heart, the film deals with Milne's awkward but loving relationship with his child, and the way being the inspiration for a popular character affected him. Curtis, who previously dealt with how fame can impact upon a sensitive soul in his Monroe movie My Week with Marilyn, handles their relationship beautifully, particularly in scenes with the adolescent 'Billy' (played by The Imitation Game's Alex Lawther).

Running alongside this troubled father-son story is a powerful anti-war sentiment (Milne penned the pacifist essay 'Peace with Honour' in 1934), although Curtis's attempts to hint at Milne's PTSD backfire, with a clumsy sequence set in the woods near his home. Largely though, it's a competent and credible work, even dipping into fantasy with a couple of subtle animated moments that bring alive the enchanting illustrations featured in the Pooh books.

General release from Fri 29 Sep.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • UK
  • 1h 47min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Simon Curtis
  • Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan
  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Macdonald
  • UK release: 28 September 2017

The story of ex-Army officer-turned-writer AA Milne (Gleeson), and how he turned to children’s literature after the public showed little desire to read his anti-war writings. Curtis handles the awkward but loving father-son relationship beautifully and it’s a competent and credible work, with subtle and intelligent use of…