Miss Potter

It should come as no surprise that “Miss Potter” comes close to being frightfully twee on occasion. When you’re talking about a film biography of Beatrix Potter, the children’s book author responsible for iconic characters like Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck, it’s something that comes with the territory.


Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson

It should come as no surprise that “Miss Potter” comes close to being frightfully twee on occasion. When you’re talking about a film biography of Beatrix Potter, the children’s book author responsible for iconic characters like Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck, it’s something that comes with the territory.

For the most part, however, this warm-hearted and sincere portrait of an unconventional woman nimbly sidesteps gooey sentimentality, charmingly presenting the story of Beatrix Potter’s rise to fame and fortune.

In turn-of-the-century England, you see, it wasn’t really the done thing for unmarried, well-to-do women in their thirties to spend their time writing and illustrating books, much less shop them around to publishing houses.

But Beatrix (Renee Zellweger), the only daughter of a prominent, wealthy London family, chose to reject the many inappropriate suitors pressed upon her by her mother and focus on creating stories about curious, mischievous (and rather well-dressed) animals.

What’s more, she actually convinced a publishing company run by the Warne brothers to print her books, even if the two brothers who ran the company considered Potter’s books a low priority, assigning them to their younger brother Norman (Ewan McGregor), a novice in the publishing business.

While inexperienced, Norman had passion to spare, especially when it came to Beatrix’s stories. Together the two worked tirelessly to make sure her books became a reality in the exact way Beatrix envisioned. And their efforts paid off, with the children of England – and indeed the world – falling under their spell.

Beatrix and Norman fell under their own spell, with the forthright and slightly eccentric author and the earnest and slightly bumbling publisher becoming more and more fond of one another.

It’s hard to get around the fact that the relationship between Beatrix and Norman doesn’t have a happy ending, a story development made all the more saddening by the lovely, lighter-than-air chemistry shared by Zellweger and McGregor, whose characters and performances complement each other beautifully.

Luckily, Australian director Chris Noonan – in his first effort behind the camera since “Babe” – expertly handles the film’s many shifts in tone. Miss Potter is just as certain and grounded during its darker moments as its lighter ones, and the result is a movie that is resolutely old-fashioned…and quite a treat at that.

Rating :
Reviewer : Guy Davis