This Wednesday’s film – Goodbye Christopher Robin – previewed

Anyone expecting a sugar-coated period drama needs to approach this film with caution. Director Simon Curtis has instead delivered something altogether more substantial and troubling. Based on local author, Ann Thwaite’s biography of A A Milne, Curtis’s film lays bare (no pun intended) the frankly awful time Christopher Milne’s had growing up in the service of Pooh.

Christopher is beautifully realised by newcomer Will Tilston, while Kelly Macdonald is reliably humane as his firm-but-fair Nanny. Domhnall Gleeson is almost unrecognisable as the damaged AA Milne, shell shocked and thoroughly disgusted by the war that was supposed to end all wars, while Margot Robbie, as his thoroughly self-centred and unlikeable wife Daphne, manages to invest enough charm and wit into the role to make Milne’s continued adulation explicable.

The film plays out with a cool detachment entirely fitting to the culture of the times. Seen very much from the child’s perspective, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s screenplay wisely avoids exploring why his parents would behave so badly. Instead, we are invited to marvel, in slack jawed horror as the boy who preferred to be known as Billy Moon is paraded around in utter bewilderment, painfully accepting of a regime that’s a hair’s breath away from child cruelty.

By David Vass