Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

I want to tell you about a new movie that releases in theaters on October 13th, Goodbye Christopher Robin.  If you are familiar with Winnie-the-Pooh (and who isn't?) you will recognize the name immediately.  This film will take you to post-war England and into the lives of the Milne family.  A.A. Milne, an author and war veteran of The Great War suffering from PTSD becomes inspired by his son to create the characters that we all know and adore today.

Goodbye Christopher Robin gives and interesting account of the genesis of Winnie-the-Pooh along with the rise in popularity of A.A. Milne's classic children's books featuring the beloved bear.  The script brings some insight into the lives of the author, called Blue, and his own son, named Christopher Robin but called Billy, as well as the author's wife, Daphne, and the boy's live-in nanny, Nou.  Costumes, setting, acting, and camera art are all very good.  In particular, the performance by the young Christopher Robin is outstanding.  It appears the script is within reasonable accuracy to actual history (I looked it up in Wikipedia as soon as the film ended because I was so surprised with the content.)

I wish the film had better audience engagement.  Of the four main characters: Billy, Blue, Nou and Daphne, each has serious struggles as well as opportunities over the course of the movie.  We see moments to celebrate in their relationships, and tragic relational blunders.  Unfortunately, the audience always seems to be held at arm's length from the characters, their failures and victories, and their coping and their compromises.  In rare scenes we get a glimpse of the depth of a character but mostly viewers are uninvolved observers throughout the film.  Some credit should be given to the concept of illustrating a distant family dynamic always held at arm's length by treating the audience to the same fate, but ultimately the balance tips heavily against this positive possibility.  So many deep issues are presented here with shallow acknowledgement, allowing the audience to react with simply a casual feeling of, "oh, what a shame..." rather than carrying the viewer into the depth of this experience.  Even though this film falls short in some regards, the movie is beautifully made, well polished, and tells an interesting story.  It is also refreshingly free of filth, obscenity, and foul language so common in Hollywood today.  I am glad I saw the film but it is not a film I would watch again.  I will certainly continue to read Winnie-the-Pooh to my children and I expect they will read the stories to their children as well.

Check out the official movie trailer for Goodbye Christopher Robin below and let me know what you think.

Disclosure:  I received an advanced screening of this film in exchange for my review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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