Enjoy PG Rated Period Biopics? You'll Love Miss Potter (Review)
by Alex Billington
January 19, 2007
Another limited January release, Miss Potter, is a biopic about Beatrix Potter (RenÃ©e Zellweger), the late 19th century author of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" and other children's stories. Miss Potter is a dainty film about her life and pursuit of love that features some great production but doesn't deliver the most engaging story.
Beatrix, according to this biopic, spent her childhood with her wealthy family who only wanted her to become a housewife. After betraying their wishes and instead painting her furry little friends, she finally finds a publisher who agrees to publish her book. In turn she meets Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor) who was sent to help her finish the book and to oversee the editing. She soon begins to fall for the charming Mr. Warne and vows to marry him, despite family objections to marrying outside the Potters' social class. Alas, in a land of fairy tales not all will go as planned.
Miss Potter is a more classical and less mainstream Finding Neverland story that is serene and heartwarming, with a warmth that only the glowing images of Peter Rabbit and his furry friends can exude. Featuring wonderful production values, great locations, and vivid costumes, the story itself is full of gaping holes and blatant story skips, either to avoid offending family audiences or for the creative considerations of director Chris Noonan (twice Oscar-nominated for Babe). Some very well-written English lines are delivered with grace, but that's to be expected of any truly diligent actor in a period British film. Zellweger is cheery and delightful in an admirable performance, albeit one that is not award-worthy.
Potter's furry creatures come to life featuring very minor visual effects and are seen through her imagination. This is a quirky visual gimmick, but it is not necessary and is distracting at worst. The characters in the story, although gleaming with British grins, have no development. They're as shallow as her drawings on parchment but they still present a charming story of love in the 19th century. Even though Miss Potter is a film of limited commercial appeal, as the release date would suggest, it's still somewhat entertaining and fits perfectly into that rating and genre.
I really have nothing bad to say about Miss Potter other than that it just didn't hold my attention with its content. Nor is it too enjoyable: it's a rather light, dainty, and wispy walk in the park that cuts so many plot points that its story is totally unsatisfying. Miss Potter shows that even in 2007, a low-budget film with simple visual effects can be cheerful and delightful with a perky story.