It's shocking when we see make believe come alive. It's never quite what we expect. The same may be said of the new movie "Goodbye Christopher Robin" (out in theaters October 13). This is the background story of A.A. Milne and his family, including his wife and son, Christopher Robin.
With a name like Christopher Robin and a father who wrote about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends and their adventures in the 100 Acre Woods, one would think that child would grow up in a fairy tale-like environment. One would definitely not think his family would be afflicted by PTSD or postpartum depression (although the latter is not specifically mentioned in this film, I cannot help but believe that is some of the underlying issues). One does not think of the overwhelming fame such a lad would face. And yet....fairy tales do always seem to get warped.
Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the real tale of the Milne family -Blue (A.A.), Daphne, and Billy Moon (Christopher Robin), along with Billy's nanny, Nou. It doesn't come at it from an outsider's perspective, all rainbows and sunshine, but rather in a neutral way, showing the good alongside the bad. And that's real life anyway, taking the good with the bad. Kind of like Winnie-the-Pooh's sunny optimism alongside Eeyore's rainy days.
Watching their story unfold, I was mesmerized by the authenticity of it, of the heartache and pain. You would never have guessed that A.A. Milne was in WWI and all the horrors that entails. You would never have guessed that sweet Christopher Robin had a mother who was very preoccupied with herself much of the time (although we cannot judge her from a biopic and we must realize we all have issues and demons we deal with; there is a terrific moment at the end where you see her love for her son).
Venturing into the 100 Acre Woods with father and son, you see a bright spot in this beautifully scripted piece of cinematography. The adventures they pretend are exactly what all children really need but rarely get. Playing cricket and chasing their own footprints in the snow; it just seemed magical. And it seemed to be for Billy Moon and A.A. Milne - a bright spot in their lives.
We are all very much like the Milnes - we get distracted by the fame of our lives (and even the mundane of our lives) and we forget to just be kids. Even grown ups need to be kids and play fantasy sometimes. It's easy to not live in the now when our calendars are filled months in advance. I believe this movie is a call to arms - to protect childhood and families. To protect innocence, to remember laughter and fancy.
I have known Winnie-the-Pooh almost my whole life (although I only read the book in the past few years), but knowing about his legacy and beginnings, I see him in a whole new light. He is the bear that brought happiness back to a hurting world. He did bring hurt into a world, too, but that is a part of life. And I believe this stuffed with fluff bear should be a part of all of our growing up...and growing back down.
Disclaimer: I received an opportunity to view this film in order to write this review. All opinions are my own and do not reflect the filmmakers, actors, or Grace Hill Media group. All images via Grace Hill Media.