Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

"Miss Potter"

The Weinstein film organization has done a gross disservice to the film viewing community and to the cast and crew of this excellent film by holding it in very limited release. In Milwaukee, it is showing on only one screen, and that at a Budget Cinema, which is unheard of for a first run picture. I had heard that a number of fillms were left in limbo as a result of the Weinsteins' severing ties with their major studio distributors, and I am wondering if something like that is responsible for the movie's ill treatment.

"Miss Potter," as a movie, is, to steal a phrase often applied in the film to Potter's work, "utterly charming." I am sure, as in any biopic, there have been factual changes made for the sake of drama. In particular, the film give the impression that Potter lead mostly a life of leisure until her first book was published at age 36. In fact, her parents (who were both pretty much idle due to inherited wealth) discouraged her intellectual development and appointed her their housekeeper when she became of age. Nevertheless, the facts regarding the publication of her books, her engagement to her publisher, his death, and her subsequent move to the Lake District and involvement in the conservation movement there, are all true.

Renee Zellweger delivers a fine performance as Beatrix. In the first sequences, where we see her trying to get her book (The Tale of Peter Rabbit) published, her features are pinched and she seems emotionally as tightly laced as an Edwardian corset. When she begins to break out of the shell of convention, she relaxes and blossoms. When tragedy stikes, she does not retreat into the tight coccoon of her earlier life, but bears sorrow with a womanly dignity and constructs another new life in the Lake Country.

She is ably supported by Emily Watson, as Millie Warne who becomes her best female friend; Ewan McGregor in a wonderfully low-keyed role as Norman Warne, who gambles his future in publishing on Beatrix; veteran actor Bill Paterson as her alternately doting and repressive father, and Barbara Flynn as her unfortunately narrow-minded mother.

The film is beautifully photographed both as to "London" and the Lake Country, and the brief animations of Potter's art work are well done and not intrusive.

This film will frequently be compared with "Finding Neverland," (also reviewed in this journal). To my mind, it is every bit as good if not better. Highly recommended.
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