Starring Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire, Cold Mountain), and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3, The Island), Miss Potter is a nice film. There’s not much more to say. Everything about Miss Potter is nice. The title character herself is so nice, one wonders if she wrote and designed the film.
The film begins when Miss Beatrix Potter (Zellweger) approaches a pair of book publishers. These two disgruntled-looking gentleman are brothers. She is a strong, confident, independent woman. In her time, this behavior is seen as an insult. Women just did not have a mind of their own, let alone an independence that we today are so accustomed to. This may be a quibble in the storytelling, but who knows? Miss Potter might have actually held her head up in such a way that it made her appear like an activitist for women’s rights. In fact, I believe – just as this film illustrates so nicely, Miss Potter just had a dream and like any of us, she did everything she could to accomplish her dream.
We get to know her home life. This aspect of the film is done so well, it might as well have been written by Jane Austin herself. In this period of time, women held parties, auctioned their daughters to be wives for wealthy men. Truthfully, I believe the parents just wanted the most for their daughters in such an unfair, unjust world. Miss Potter’s own father, Rupert (Bill Paterson) almost says those exact words when he stops her to tell her just how proud he is of her work. Mom, Helen Potter (Barbara Flynn) is not so much interested in Beatrix’s welfare as much as keeping the family name from being run through the mud. Needless to say, the very independent Beatrix does not get along well with her stalk, old-fashion mother, and vice versa. In her mother’s eyes, every dream Beatrix has is like a dagger in her heart.
For mother dearest, things couldn’t get any worse when Norman Warne (McGregor), the third brother in the same publishing firm she had gone to approaches Beatrix to get in business with her. He is such a nice man, Norman is almost corny in his naive optimism. But one wonders if we’re seeing this kind gentleman through eyes of Miss Beatrix Potter. Norman loves her illustrations and her stories. She’s drawn and painted Peter Rabbit out to such detail, he might as well be hoping off the page. In Miss Potter’s mind, he will and he does. These cartoons, these beautiful illustrations are her only friends until Norman Warne arrives. He introduced her to her sister, Millie (Emily Watson). Not only does Beatrix become best friends with the ever independent, almost dangerous Millie, Miss Potter soon falls head over heels in love with Norman.
The real Beatrix Potter was successful as they come. Her children’s books became the highest selling in history. She did such great works as, The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Little Pig Robinson. Then she passed away in 1943 at Castle Cottage in Sawrey. I believe Hollywood has done Miss Potter’s legacy justice with this adaptation of her life. Beatrix was a dreamer, and an inspiration.
Directing: A little soft, a little uninspired but just perfect for this tale. When the illustrations come to life, it’s like watching an old childhood dream being realized. I wouldn’t give Director Chris Noonan an Oscar but it’s certainly a noteworthy effort.
Acting: Wonderful. I’ve never been so impressed by Renee Zellweger or Ewan McGregor. Not only do they make such a good pair, their performances compliment each other’s talent as actors. She is definitely believable as Beatrix Potter and the illusion that he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever see becomes all more imaginable as the film progresses. She gives life, pain and suffering to the dream-like life of Beatrix. Ewan gives what could normally be portrayed as a cardboard cutout of the “perfect man” a heart with real feelings.
Writing: Exceptionally well-written by Richard Maltby Jr. He seems to have a clear understanding of life in England at the turn of the century. He and Noonan brush this tapestry of realism with so much beauty, it’s hard not to enjoy every moment you’re watching Miss Potter.
I highly recommend going out and picking up a copy of Miss Potter.
Other movies I’d recommend:
Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp (Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End), and Kate Winslet (Titanic)
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Sense & Sensibility