Eye For Film >> Movies >> Miss Potter (2006) Film Review
The opening sequence of Miss Potter lingers in close up on watercolour brush strokes that convey an intimacy and fragility that is lost with oil painting - you can't cover up mistakes so easily with watercolour.
Beatrix Potter lives in the world she creates. Many of us (the present writer included) had imaginary friends when we were very young. Potter's creative drive filled her imaginary friends, based on pets and animals, with a life that gave her love, endless stories and adventures, and a series of illustrated tales that would become the best selling children's books of all time. Her genius extended to areas barely mentioned in the film, which consequently will disappoint purists, but the link is well made between the verdant pastures that gave shelter to her characters and what would be the donation of thousands of acres of land to the National Trust.
Renée Zellweger inhabits the role of Beatrix with the warmth of a fluffy bunny and the perspicacity and determination of a woman artist struggling to be recognised in a man's world. At the beginning of the 20th century, women of standing, such as Potter, were never left unaccompanied in the presence of a man. This gives rise to some amusement as Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor), her fledgling publisher, strives to find more than a meeting of artistic minds, until the couple are secretly engaged, egged on by Norman’s feminist sister (Emily Watson).
Miss Potter is an enchanting tearjerker period piece, and full of colour. It recreates the manners and even the humour of the era, keeping us enthralled as it spins a sugar-enriched story that never sags for a minute. Zellweger, Watson and McGregor are incredibly cute, although I conceive that might read “incredibly irritating” to those allergic to such larger than life glossiness. As a feel-good bedtime story, the film will engulf the willing in its warm embrace. For my money, this is the most lovable role I have seen Zellwegger in to date and the closing song by Katie Melua (When You Taught Me How to Dance) the best movie song of the past year.
Miss Potter is suitable for older children - the momentary animation of the illustrations is quite addictive - who might wish to accompany a largely adult female audience, with the occasional indulgent male. The beauty of the Lake District, the charming manners of bygone London society and the spirited, heartfelt quest of a talented woman wrap and cosset us like a soft warm blanket.
At one point, Beatrix's mother wants to know how on earth she will pay for things if she leaves the family home. Her father points out that she is a famous author, a fact that everyone in the world but her mother seems aware of. This movie could have had a more serious tone, enshrining the genius of Peter Rabbit's creator, but that would have been untrue to the whimsical magic of her stories.
Miss Potter is not a historical study of an artist. It’s more that all your fluffy bunnies have come at once.Reviewed on: 27 Jan 2007