Watched: 10 February
British heritage period piece about the life of ‘Winnie The Pooh’ author AA Milne (Domnhall Gleeson), focusing on the creation of his enduring stories for children and the way that this shaped his relationship with son Christopher (Will Tilston, Alex Lawther). It’s certainly not bad but there’s something tiresome about the way it insistently puts forward an idyllic, yellow-and-golden-brown-hued view of England during the 1920s and 1930s (only briefly dispensing with the notion that it was permanently magic hour and summer back then for a couple of clumsily contrasting dark n’ muddy trench-cliché sequences set during the two world wars).
I’m yet to be fully convinced by Gleeson, who has carved out a successful two-prong career: I get the appeal of him as a go-to leading man for British filmmakers – he has delivered a few decent performances playing semi-manic fringe-y mumble-stumble guys – but I simply don’t see the versatile character actor that Hollywood’s casting directors seem to be in love with at present (his scenes in the Star Wars franchise are only remotely memorable because of Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren). Sadly the two more interesting actors appearing in this film (Kelly Macdonald and Margot Robbie) are very much playing second fiddle, and I thought it a shame that the relationship between man and boy takes precedence over the more complex and awkward three-way dynamic between Christopher Milne, his nanny and his mother.
The obvious intention was to make something sentimental and classy that appeals to Milne fans and plays well abroad with audiences that appreciate those rather narrow views of what England is (and was), and to that end this is a success… but it’s a type of filmmaking that I find really boring and there’s nothing new being said here about father-son relationships or the creative process. (**)