Poor writing and bad casting decisions ruined the potential of Goodbye Christopher Robin.
Goodbye Christopher Robin takes place in the early 1940’s just as the world was beginning to brace for a significant conflict. A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is longing to take his writing in a different direction and tackle more prominent social issues. He moves his lovely wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie) and their son Billy Moon (Will Tilston) away from London to the countryside with hopes of overcoming his writer’s block. Weeks go by, and Milne isn’t getting any closer to starting his manuscript. However, through the course of playing with son, he becomes inspired to write about a topic that will change their lives completely.
Robbie’s performance as Milne’s wife was understated yet necessary to the story. Daphne represents the transition that Milne goes through during this film. His life was once nothing more than social gatherings and cocktail parties. Now, he’s concerned with ending all war.
What was compelling is the disparity between Daphne and Milne’s societal awareness. Robbie’s character seems to be more interested in where the next glamorous event is. While she hates everything about war, her priority is to be seen and not make a scene. Gleeson’s character is more concerned about the future for his children and others.
Gleeson’s performance was, as usual, strong and certainly stood out when compared to the rest of the cast. His character was extremely conflicted. Milne appears to be a very analytical person who is trying to come to grips with the horrors of war (he served in World War One).
Carter Burwell’s musical score is terrific. Burwell manages to keep it light with the use of harps and a broad scope of string instruments. The music doesn’t come off as grinding or loud, and the use of percussion instruments is minimal.
Ben Smithard’s Cinematography was able to capture the beauty of the English countryside.
What Didn’t Work
Frank Cottrell Boyce and Simon Vaughan constructed a storyline that merely tried to accomplish too much. Half of the film tackles the horrors of PTSD and then immediately pivots towards focusing on the difficulties of being famous. Had Boyce and Vaughan focused more on the elements of the story surrounding PTSD, the movie would have been far more engaging.
The film tends to gloss over the details surrounding how he created the infamous characters who inhabit the Hundred Acre Woods. Why?
Tilston should not have been cast as Milne’s son. His performance was over the top and was from believable.
While a slew of critics have taken Goodbye Christopher Robin to task, the film isn’t that bad. Simon Curtis’s latest film had the potential to be one of the better releases of 2017, but a narrative that lacked focus and poor casting doomed this film. There are just better options at the theater this weekend and great movies just around the corner.