THIS is the story of AA Milne, in particular the period in which he and his son Christopher Robin created Winnie the Pooh.
With an incredibly proficient cast such as Domnhall Gleeson, Margot Robbie and Kelly McDonald, you’d expect this to be as charming as Finding Neverland or as sad and touching as Shadowlands.
But even though the source material dictates as such – the end product is lacking.
It’s 1941 and we meet AA Milne (Blue) as he returns from the Somme a broken man, full of anti-war bile, riddled with PTSD and desperate for some recuperation time in the countryside.
Shame then, that he married what seems to be the worst woman in the world.
Daphne Milne (Robbie) is a socialite who, until she actually gave birth, had no idea how babies were born and spends the entire film as selfishly bewildered with her family situation as the audience are with Robbie’s performance.
A nanny is drafted in to bring young Christopher Robin into contact with someone not sick of the sight of him, played by the ever delightful Kelly Macdonald – giving the film some much needed emotional glue.
As the story progresses, Milne, intent on writing his takedown on war, finds himself singlehandedly looking after his son (imagine) thanks to a grieving nanny and selfish wife.
It’s here that Blue and Billy Moon (their family names) connect and cherish time spent in their own imaginations, with nothing but the woods and a handful of cuddly toys for company.
Ernest, Milne’s close friend (Stephen Campbell Moore – having a blinder of a week after his excellent turn in the Cumberbatch drama The Child in Time last weekend) sketches a few pictures, Milne adds some words and, well you know the rest.
Toys bought by an odd mother, played with by a lonely child, brought to life by a damaged father, lapped up by an entire generation.
Far from the idyllic success you’d expect something as charming as Winnie the Pooh to bring, Goodbye Christoper Robin’s third act turns into a foreshadowing for noughties celebrity culture in an early documentation of parents selling their kid down the river for fame – bringing with it a resentment that is never forgiven.
Poor old Christopher is treated like a post-war Bieber with a bear and a donkey as Mr & Mrs Milne make Kriss & Caitlyn Jenner look like Hyacinth and Richard Bucket.
The film never really finds it’s feet. Apart from a few minutes between Gleeson and young Will Tilson (an extraordinary debut) – there is almost zero connection between any characters.
Individually, apart from the brilliant Alex Lawther as the scathing elder Christopher Robin, they all struggle.
A scowl, a furrowed brow and a clipped accent will simply not do here. It’s a charming, interesting story that leaves you decidedly unmoved.
This is a film all about heart, feelings and love, yet includes very little of any of it.
The disjointed feeling keeps niggling away, particularly from Margot Robbie – who spends all but three seconds of the film not giving a blind s**t about husband or son.
Quite how we as an audience are expected to believe her redemptive final emotions made me quite cross. A tale so intriguing turned into something quite unremarkable.
Goodbye Christopher Robin (PG) 107 mins