GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
This biopic based on A.A. Milnes life comes from Simon Curtis, a producer and director who has done extensive work in British arts television, mostly for the BBC. He had previously directed the theatrical films My Week with Marilyn (2011) and Woman in Gold (2015). The screenplay is co-written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, best known for his work for Michael Winterbottom, including the films 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Code 46 (2003). The film was released with the clear intention of contending for 2017 awards season but failed to garner any nominations anywhere.
It took me a long time to get into Goodbye Christopher Robin. One of the jarring things from the outset was current It Girl Margot Robbie as Milnes wife. Robbie is an Australian actress and has gained a great deal of attention in the last couple of years. I still had memory of the two last films I had seen her in as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad (2016) and as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya (2017) fixed in memory as I watched her here both of which are at 180 degree remove from the role of the British society wife she is playing here. While the public is up in arms about Hollywoods constant casting of ethnic roles with whiteface what has come to be called whitewashing I see no real reason why it shouldnt equally be the case with recasting British characters and real-life people with Hollywood stars a notable case of this being the Bridget Jones films or Robert Downey Jrs Sherlock Holmes. It was this that kept rupturing my suspension of disbelief during the initial scenes. The other is that the two lead characters of Milne and Daphne remain unlikeable people for much of the way into the film Domhnall Gleeson gives a performance that is cold and shut-off, emotionally detached from his kid, while Margot Robbies Daphne comes across as a self-absorbed bitch. This may well have been intentional but it also results in a film where we are actively disliking the central characters for a good way in.
On the other hand, there came this point (about thirty minutes in) when I started to warm to the film. The point it started to do so for me was when Milne is left with sole charge of Christopher Robin and awkwardly has to come to terms with being a parent for the first time. This leads to a quite magical montage of scenes with Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston wandering through the woods where we see (as per any creator biopic) aspects of the Winnie the Pooh story then playing Poohsticks, Owls house and so on falling into place and being inspired. Unlike most other stories about various artists, this is not so much a celebratory one as a cautionary work where we see just as much how the world jumps on board the Winnie the Pooh stories as the effect it has on a young boy whose life is sliced up by the marketing of stories that were intended for him and by the constant intrusions of the rest of the outside world into his life.
(Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay at this sites Best of 2017 Awards).