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Miss Potter

September 5, 2010

Miss Potter (2006)
Director: Chris Noonan
Actors: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson

MissPotter.jpg (320×160)

Synopsis: Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) struggles to get her childrens stories to print….

Review: On paper, this was a vomit-inducing proposition: a saccharine period picture detailing the career of Beatrix Potter, with Renée Zellweger – fresh from nauseating ‘comic’ performances in Bridget Jones and Cold Mountain – in the lead role. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised, with the filmmakers judging the modest scope of the story very well, letting the action play out discreetly from within its insular confines. The narrative is unfussy and more charming than twee or odiously sentimental, and the period detail and scenery are impeccable – fitting in perfectly with the story’s concern for all things serene and picturesque. Even some thematic aspects of the work are thoughtworthy: there’s an interesting play on period conventions with the woman having to worry about “marrying down” rather than the man, and the mother proves the greatest obstacle to Beatrix’s happiness rather than the usual patriarchal figure. Arguably the narrative becomes a bit fey and unfocused in its final-third after a tragic death, and Potter is saddled with an underwhelming subplot about a move to the Lake District and her campaign to preserve that region from unscrupulous land developers. All in all though, this is a sweet, gentle film – which is perhaps the most appropriate of elegies to one of Britain’s best-loved children’s authors. (February 2007)

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