Rated: PG for thematic elements, some bullying, war images and brief language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 13, 2017 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Part British period piece, part biopic concerning the making of a beloved children's book (i.e. Winnie The Pooh) is more intriguing, introspective, even gloomier than expected. That will leave some patrons lachrymose touched by a pretty vivid, not too obfuscated chronicle.
Goodbye Christopher Robin stars Irish actor/writer Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, a devious operative in the current American Made and son of Brendan) , Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot), and Kelly Macdonald (T2 Trainspotting, Gosford Park) in a flashback drama that handles messed-up characters and situations pretty well; in ways that relate to the way social media is handled in our 'TMZ' world.
It's bookended around 1941 when Alan (A.A.) Milne (a vulnerable, if spry Gleeson) and conceited patrician wife Daphne (a one-dimensional Robbie) receive word about their son Christopher Robin (Alex Lawther) in the war. It causes Milne to 'look back' to the childhood of their boy nicknamed Billy Moon when he penned funny plays and films. Even earlier when he returned from the 'Great War' with high anxiety (what is now referred to PTSD) and obviously didn't want his son to bear the same type of hardship. Billy was mostly raised by his nanny Olive, a quite effective Macdonald.
Young Billy (a fine, dimpled Will Tilston) is the impetus for his father to make a change as the family relocates to rural Sussex in recounting stories based on his (stuffed) toy animals and wooded environs. But, this will lead to a news outlet frenzy that will leave its mark on the family.
Helmer Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn) works with his craftspeople to impart elegance to finding humanity in society's upper echelon with Robbie doling out more of Daphne's personality in quieter spaces. Though this wife comes across arguably less sympathetic than her Harley Quinn in the successful DC Comics movie Suicide Squad.
The father/son dynamic is at the heart of productive, if deceptive "Robin" where the structuring isn't that detrimental and the make-up work is decent enough in the aging process (maybe not coming off that effectively in Milne's case). What prevails is the unsentimental honesty (like the poignant Finding Neverland) from a generous Gleeson to the unforeseen range and constancy brought to the fore by an adorable Tilston and haunted Lawther (The Imitation Game).
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