Movie Review: Miss Potter

By Amy Lamare, June 19, 2007

What is it about Renee Zellweger (RZELL) that inspires casting directors to tap her to play characters from Britain? First Bridget Jones and now Beatrix Potter. Surely there was an English actress who could have played the beloved author of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit.’

Miss Potter strives to tell the story of this Victorian era author using the same style and tone as Finding Neverland with the life of JM Barrie. While it is similar in content and structure, Miss Potter fails to resonate as strongly with audiences.

As played by Zellweger, Beatrix Potter comes across as the Bridget Jones of Victorian England. She’s independent, single, and more than a little eccentric. She is also looked down upon by her mother but championed by her father. All her life Beatrix has been thought of as being a bit off, and her dear mama doesn’t let her forget all her supposed shortcomings easily – not even when she becomes a famous author and can buy and sell her parents many times over. Mom still sees her as weak and defective.

Its not just Mom who tries to undermine our dear Beatrix. She is also harangued by all the blue blooded unattractive suitors thrust in her path and must face reticence from publishers for her “bunny book.”

Finally one editor, played by Ewan McGregor (EMCGR) takes a shine to Beatrix and her kids story. In fact he takes such a shine to her that the two fall in love, enraging the nouveaux riche Potters. They feel Norman is beneath them and send their adult daughter away for three months in the hopes that she will get over her infatuation with her newly affianced beau.

The couple is wrenched apart alright but not as the Potters had hoped. The story takes a bit of license with historical facts, but that does not detract from the overall film. Director Chris Noonan does a serviceable job with his first feature gig since helming 1995s Babe.

All in all the film plays out with a considerable towards Finding Neverland. Even the film’s device of having Beatrix’ drawings of her animals come to life as she speaks to them has a bit of Neverland’s flavor to it.

The film’s running time is swift, coming in at under 90 minutes. All in all Miss Potter is a sweet but forgettable film.

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