Childhood is a blessed time. It is sometimes overlooked, but those carefree years that we go through at breakneck speed often mark a lifetime. And then, growing up, we forget the promises we made, forced by dubious obligations that take precedence over our imagination. In this sense, Jean-Christophe & Winnie serves as a reminder. Marc Forster’s film is not the one we placed at the top of our list, and yet it has some great qualities to showcase.
Thirty years later
In 1977, the world discovered Winnie, a little yellow bear cub who loves honey. A Disney instant classic, the feature film is inspired by a character created in 1926 by Alan Alexander Milne. Over the years, this naive and loafer hero quickly becomes a darling of the production studio, just like his friends Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. Aimed at the little ones, the Winnie the Pooh cartoons are still very popular with everyone and seeing a “live” version of their adventures did not really surprise.
This new story thus recounts the misadventures of Jean-Christophe Robin, thirty years after his last visit to the Forest of Blue Dreams. The little boy who once loved to visit Winnie and his friends has grown up. With age, he eventually forgot who he was, the promises he made and turned into a man far too measured. Having become a father in his turn and having to face heavy responsibilities, Jean-Christophe sees the little cub in his life, the latter seeking to help his most faithful friend.
we expected the most this year. Perhaps because the character of Winnie, too childish, is classified in a category that is left for the little ones. However, the realization of Marc Forster (Neverland, Quantum of Solace, World War Z) is a surprising surprise which makes us find a part of our child’s soul. The film starts at a slow pace, which takes the time to introduce the viewer to the different protagonists, their characters and the places with which they are associated. And then, with a certain gentleness, Jean-Christophe’s adventure takes on meaning and involves young and old alike. And this is the strength of the film.
A visual success
While we could legitimately think that Jean-Christophe & Winnie was intended above all for children, the feature film surprises and apostrophe equally parents and young adults. If his side “care bears” will disturb some, the realization of Marc Forster has the ingenious idea of dealing with sufficiently relevant themes. ” Why do we lose our child’s soul? ”Or“ The importance of family life ”are subjects placed on the table and to which the film strives to find the answers. Obviously, each person reacts in a different way to the ideals, sometimes simplistic, which are presented, but it is clear that Marc Forster knew how to find the right words and adequate angles to convince.
This first Winnie the Pooh mixing real shots and computer-generated images is also a visual delight. The artistic direction advocated by the director is surprisingly successful. The latter depicts a very industrial London of the 1950s to which is opposed a colorful blue Forest of Dreams. Matthias Koenigswieser’s photography is no stranger to it, the man skillfully playing with shadows, light and scenery to achieve an often enchanting and sometimes exhilarating result, and rightly so. The different characters, from Winnie to Tigger, Master Owl, Eeyore or Piglet benefit from an inventive modeling which takes up the codes of the 70s cartoons while modernizing everything. In short, the special effects are a real success.
Jean-Christophe & Winnie has only one flaw: its plot is sewn with white thread. From the start, we know where the story that is being told is leading us and there are never any surprises at this level. We can predict in advance the events that will affect the heroes and know their reactions without being wrong. We would have appreciated a little more risk-taking in the staging even if the film already offers some astonishing moments (especially those which evoke the Second World War).
As for the performances, we can only salute that of Ewan McGregor who is definitely an actor with crazy talent. The Scotsman, who plays a 40-year-old Jean-Christophe Robin, is for many in the charm that operates by viewing the feature film. His relationship with Winnie and his coming of age is at the heart of a story that plays a lot on the actor’s ability to master a variety of emotions. At his side, we find Hayley Atwell (Captain America, Agent Carter) who plays Evelyn, Jean-Christophe’s wife, but also Madeleine, his daughter. The two women have an important role that they are happy to interpret and it shows. We also note the performance of Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) who still masters the characters of London condescending and pretentious.