As a fan of children's books I dove into this movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, thinking it was going to be the sweet origin story of our beloved Winnie the Pooh. How AA Milne loved his boy & wrote about him.
& it was that.
& a whole bunch more.
From the beginning you see that Milne is dealing with some major PTSD returning from World War I. He jumps each time there is an unexpected sound, he is very concerned about the effect of war & wants to do something about it. This is not a lovey dovey, fuzzy filtered story.
As the movie moves along, we see that Milne is really a pretty serious guy. Kind of hard to picture him telling the story of a silly old bear getting stuck in the door of his house & having his friends draw a smiley face on his bum. He’s focused on preventing war, writing about serious subjects & he has no time for his son.
Billy Moon, as his parents call him, doesn’t seem to care much anyway because he has a nanny, Nu, who he adores. Plus, a gang of very familiar stuffed friends who he plays with in the most beautiful spots & in the best light that the English countryside has to offer. (Seriously, this movie is so pretty. A scene where Billy & Milne play in the snow is so gorgeous & unexpected, I would like to tell you all about it, but it really just needs to be seen.)
Daphne, Mrs. Milne, also can’t be bothered to nurture family unity. She’s busy looking cute & running off to the city. (No shaming here, every mom deserves some time off.)
This family is a tad dysfunctional.
Just like all families are.
& I think that’s the thing that rang the most true as I watched this movie. There are some parts that are so sad, some that are so sweet, some that are frustrating & some that make you want to hug yourself & everyone else around you.
Life is full of unexpected stuff. What we do with it matters.
We are not all great parents, we often don’t know what to do & are all doing the best we can.
Parenting is full of unexpected stuff. How we react matters.
& how we apologize when we react wrongly matters, too.
Milne realizes that he’s been missing out & soon enough the author is sparked & the real life scenes turn into book pages. (Again, so pretty) The success of the Winnie the Pooh books doesn’t heal wounds, it actually creates more, but the hurts create the opportunity for strength to rise up & Billy Moon becomes certain about what he wants his future to be.
By now you've probably realized that this movie is not for kids, as it deals pretty straight on with war, depression & difficult family dynamics. It's not a sweet origin story, or a story of how a stuffed bear changed everyone for the better, but it is a story that will make you think differently when you see the cover of The House at Pooh Corner. It will spark some compassion & maybe a bit of sadness along with the sweetness it always has.
& I think Christopher Robin would be just fine with that.
Goodbye Christopher Robin stars Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, Unbroken), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad) and Kelly MacDonald (Brave, Nanny McPhee). It comes out in theaters on October 13.
Emily Gulka is the creator of GoMomGo Eugene & a huge movie fan. She has loved taking her 2 kids (ages 11 & 13) to see big animated releases & as they grow she's loving taking them to see smaller indy films as well. Movies let us see perspectives we could never understand otherwise & Emily is all for sharing that with children.