Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of Miss Potter featurette; Katie Melua music video – When You Taught Me How To Dance; Trailer.
THE poster for Miss Potter proudly states that “the life of Beatrix Potter is the most enchanting tale of all”. Yet as heartwarming as Chris Noonan’s biopic undoubtedly is, a certain amount of artistic liberty has been taken.
The chronology of Potter’s life is toyed with, as is the role played by publisher Norman Warne in bringing her books to the masses. Those seeking a definitive chronicle of the life of this beloved children’s author had best look elsewhere.
The casting of Renee Zellweger is also a strength and a weakness. The actress plays Potter as both fiercely independent and eccentric, someone who was years ahead of her time. Yet by striving to keep her endearing, she also threatens to make her too sweet for words.
This is mirrored in the overall tone of proceedings, which is hopelessly in keeping with the U certificate.
Noonan’s film picks up as Potter attempts to defy convention by selling her illustrated animal stories.
Although sceptical, publishers Frederick Warne and Co agree to give them a go and place their youngest brother, Norman (Ewan McGregor) in charge of the project.
Success follows and Beatrix and Norman subsequently begin a relationship that’s frowned upon by the former’s high society parents. But as Beatrix determines to follow her heart, fate deals her a nasty blow…
For all of its many faults, it’s difficult not to warm to some of Miss Potter‘s charms. It’s beautifully shot and includes some nice animated touches that succeed in bringing Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck to life without detracting from the central players.
And it boasts some fine performances. Ewan McGregor is typically charismatic and successfully reignites the chemistry he shared with Zellweger in Down With Love. While Emily Watson, as his straight-talking sister, brings some much-needed guts.
But Potter purists may feel that Noonan and company have only really scratched the surface of an otherwise extraordinary character, while criticising Zellweger for injecting a few too many Bridget Jones-style quirks into her performance.
Once the feel-good glow has dimmed from proceedings and the hopeless romantics have extracted what they need, the more discerning viewer may find themselves lamenting Miss Potter as something of a missed opportunity.
Running time: 92mins