It’s a film about so many things, but on the surface, this is a film about the creation of one of the most beloved characters of all time… Winnie the Pooh. Everybody loves Winnie the Pooh. He’s a character impossible not to love, reuniting adulthood with childhood, while bringing warmth and comfort to those still growing up. The character represents a sort of security blanket, where everything is going to be all right, but the same can’t be said for the story behind it. The life of author Alan Milne is one of heartbreak, sorrow and trauma, and one that could easily lend itself to the big screen.
Alas, what brings success also brings turmoil, and the more attention brought on the book, the more attention brought on the boy, much to his dismay. The story of Goodbye Christopher Robin is a fascinating one, executed in a way that makes it quite a bore. We have a story of PTSD, our celebrity obsession, the pointlessness of war and the importance of fatherhood, but it’s all put to waste, with only glimmers of inspiration scattered throughout the runtime. It’s all very monotone and vanilla. A stylistic and promising start shows scatters of hope, but as the plot progresses, it gradually fades away.
The performances are good, but they’re too shallow and internal to be remarked as anything special. Micro-acting can be done right. Emotionless performances don’t always equate to bad ones. Ryan Gosling has mastered it, just this year delivering an utterly sensational performance in Blade Runner 2049. But with the performances here, they’re too uninteresting and shy that their brilliance is lost. These are all fantastic actors, but none of them are able to stand out. Not even Margot Robbie steals the show, a very tough thing to do. She’s good, but she’s not great, although it does perhaps have something to do with her underwritten character.
It’s further frustrating because, from time to time, we do see things from Christopher’s perspective. Certain scenes are shot from his point of view, especially towards the second act (even if it mostly consisted of him just playing in the woods). There’s no focus. It’s choppy. We jump from Christopher to Alan then back to Christopher, when we should’ve just stayed with him from the very beginning. It’s a horribly misguided biopic with shimmer of greatness, but alas, the great story hidden away is going to have to wait some more.
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