Combustible Celluloid
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With: Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Campbell Moore, Alex Lawther, Will Tilston, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Vicki Pepperdine
Written by: Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Simon Vaughan
Directed by: Simon Curtis
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some bullying, war images and brief language
Running Time: 107
Date: 10/20/2017

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Winnie Takes All

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Although Goodbye Christopher Robin is another awards-season biopic, this one manages to avoid most of the genre trappings by telling a more focused story, a story that's about something, rather than simply someone's "life story." (It's even somewhat kid-friendly.) The movie focuses on writer A.A. (Alan) Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), who comes home from The Great War full of trauma and anxiety. He wishes to write about the horrors of war, and decides to move to the quiet of the country with his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) and their young son Christopher. He's unable to write for a while, and he broods while Daphne shops and sharply reproaches their nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald). Christopher, however (played by many different children at different ages), loves Olive dearly.

At some point, Olive must return home to tend to her ailing mother, and Daphne rushes off after a fight — poor Robbie really gets the short end of the stick in this movie — and Alan and Christopher are left alone for many days. They begin to spend actual time together, imagining stories with Christopher's collection of stuffed animals, walking in the woods. Alan calls in his illustrator friend Ernest Shepard (Stephen Campbell Moore) and they begin creating the wonderful "Winnie the Pooh" books. Unfortunately, these make a star out of the real-life Christopher Robin, and he is suddenly forced to go on many public appearances, etc., and parades are given to him on his birthday, rather than love from his parents. You get the picture. But the way that director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) and screenwriters Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughan slowly begin to narrow the focus on father and son is quite touching, and when the film finishes, it's a small portrait of this relationship, tragic, flawed, and lovely.

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