Not only did I grow up with an English mum, I raised my own children on Winnie the Pooh books and toys. I still treasure the images – and yes, greeting cards – with the gentle friends walking side by side along the woodsy trail, a lot because of the sense of heritage I get from the tilt of the language and all those old-fashioned feelings. So imagine my shudder when I had to admit I knew nothing about A.A. Milne’s life story as an author. How could we all not realize that Christopher Robin was actually his son?
Goodbye Christopher Robin escorts us on a beautifully directed journey of the witty and troubled A.A. Milne, and his desperation to solve the pain of war. His return from WWI left him traumatized and suffering from PTSD, and only the bravery and imagination of his son can snap him out of it. Watching the artistic process to invent the characters and lives of our friends in the 100 Acre Wood is utterly joyful. I felt giddy as the father-son duo marches through the woods hunting bear and honey and just being close. The lightness of these moments rose out of the pain like an oasis of relief and happiness. I didn’t want those scenes to end.
We fall in love with this heartbreakingly sweet and clever boy, who seems to understand and forgive his father’s traumatic episodes even as they were happening. For a long time, we like everyone, even when they’re behaving selfishly because the lens is so clear. It was a different time and a very different place.
We feel the deep need for Winnie the Pooh to save the world from its post-war darkness.
As the fame takes hold on the family, and Christopher Robin becomes a global phenomenon, this remarkable solution to the world’s hurt becomes the very cause of agony for the boy who inspired it all. The movie holds nothing back in bringing us into this drama. It’s well done and in the end, we are grateful for the completeness of the whole experience. Goodbye Christopher Robin is an elegantly told story that leaves us feeling closer to a precious part of our childhood.