You know Winnie-the-Pooh as a lovable, honey guzzling bear who cherishes being Christopher Robin’s best friend. Well, in the new film Goodbye Christopher Robin, audiences will learn the heartbreaking backstory to this beloved children’s tale.
It is post-World War I England and Alan Alexander Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is struggling to do what he does best – write. In the midst of bonding with his 6-year-old son, whom he affectionately calls Billy Moon, he suddenly finds inspiration from him and his teddy bear. The pure, innocent joy of their friendship puts a smile on Milne’s face, so why not share it with the whole country? He puts pen to paper and before you know it he, his son, and his stuffed animal are household names. As Winnie-the-Pooh books flew off the shelves, for the moment the country seemed to forget the horrors of the war.
Yet, as England’s - and eventually the world’s - smile grew, Billy’s disappeared. Suddenly, his story was not his own. Everyone wanted to interview the boy. The nonstop media onslaught upended his life, particularly his relationship with his father.
Gleeson gives a moving performance as Milne, a man trying to balance his life as an author and a father. Margot Robbie is just as convincing as his impatient wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) who has a streak of rudeness. She presses Milne to use his talents, giving him an ultimatum: write, or I won’t come home. Yet, it’s clear her intentions are ultimately for her husband’s benefit.
Will Tilston, the newcomer who plays Billy, has a smile that will melt your heart.
As Billy grows up, we begin to understand the implications of his childhood in the spotlight, including his getting bullied at school. That part is somewhat rushed, and it would have been intriguing to see those years flushed out a bit more. But, it all comes full circle during a few poignant conversations with a now-teenage Billy and his regretful father. The two manage to find forgiveness.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is in theaters Friday. Check out the exclusive clip below.