Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017): ‘Personal vs Professional Success’ – A Film Review


Goodbye Christopher Robin the film about the life of acclaimed author A. A. Milne, the author behind Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) – the children’s novel. After the success of films like Saving Mr Banks and Finding Neverland a look to the widely successful story of a toy bear and his adventures with his owner Christopher Robin seemed obvious – we’ll only get Beatrix Potter next. Winnie-the-Pooh is one of the most enduring tales of an innocent look at the world. A. A. Milne wasn’t just the author of Winnie-the-Pooh, however, and perhaps it’d be a mistake to see this as an imaginative look at a child’s eye or a fairytale origin story. Goodbye Christopher Robin could be nothing, it could be a foolish fancy or a simple tale. Although why would it be ‘Goodbye’ Christopher Robin?



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Cinematography of Childlike Nostalgia


Within Winnie-the-Pooh we have a rich mythology of characters and location; whilst biopics often look romantically at the past. Seeing the Cinematography, the rich vibrant colours, paired with an almost Jean Cocteau-like editing, it’s so pleasing on the eyes. Not afraid to experiment with the use of blurs to foreground the emotional interest as well as rapid time and scene changes taking a war to a dinner and a child to a teenager. The film flows from set up to set up and through well-lit scenes and colourful mise-en-scène we’re quickly romanticising the surroundings and lending the film into its imaginative environments. This culminates further when characters are forcibly drawn into their illustrative counterparts (more on this later). We only have some odd jump cuts to take away from this mastery of the films look that feels thematic to the story.

Never forget the Story


With so many films focusing on the look we can see a neglect for the characters and the narrative. Looking at wonder at what we see and not thinking about what we feel. These little moments are actually nuanced to be character motivated within Goodbye Christopher Robin. Through an impeccable cast, we really follow the emotional journey of A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson), how this interacts with his wife ‘Daphne’ (Margot Robbie) and ‘Billy Moon’ or Christopher Robin (Will Tilston/Alex Lawther) and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald). Their performances are so on point, it really help the embellishments of their characters, especially when Goodbye Christopher Robin wants to wait with each character. This actually helps the characters to be more 3-dimensional and emotionally relatable rather than just plot points. You can’t fully dislike any of them when they’re at their worst and you can fully submerge into their world.



So why Goodbye Christopher Robin? Looking to darker truths, Goodbye Christopher Robin is an amazing way to look at the battle between professional and personal success. Mirrored in the film by emotion and plot. Developments come after a proper exploration of the emotional journeys and by diving into an imaginative world we see both stimuli for this theme: personal development or professional gain. This builds to a climax that almost feels like a cry out for the title. The price for fame can cause people to try to leave identities behind, an identity that can sometimes be thrust upon you. The dark side of Winnie-the-Pooh.

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.


After the first world war, A. A. Milne can’t leave the atrocities behind. He eventually takes his family and newborn child ‘Billy Moon’ away to the countryside to escape his memories. There in his marital strife he is forced to see the imaginative side of a child, re-finding happiness and soon the professional success that undoes his relationship with his son.

Films Mentioned

Finding Neverland (d. Marc Forster USA/UK 2004)

Goodbye Christopher Robin (d. Simon Curtis UK 2017)

Saving Mr. Banks (d. John Lee Hancock USA/UK/Australia 2013)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie

Interview with Simon Curtis and Will Tiltson

Interview with Kelly Macdonald and Margot Robbie

Interview with Domhnall Gleeson on A. A. Milne

Will Tiltson’s First Premier

Featurette ‘On Billy Moon’

The Sentimental Children’s Author Biopic

A. A. Milne’s Estrangement from Winnie-the-Pooh


If you liked this…

Saving Mr Banks (2013) Film Review

About Time (2013) Film Review


This was an analytical review of….

Goodbye Christopher Robin (d. Simon Curtis UK 2017)

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