MISS POTTER: DVD
Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger), a storyteller/illustrator since childhood, lives with her snobbish parents, Rupert (Bill Paterson) and Helen (Barbara Flynn) in turn of the century London, having rebuffed all suitors presented to her by her society-conscious mother. When her stories and water colours are accepted by the Warne family publishing business, she is introduced to youngest Warne brother, Norman (Ewan McGregor), the apprentice publisher. Her whimsical and charming stories about Peter Rabbit and other familiar English field animals are soon popular. And her relationship with Norman develops and eventually leads to a proposal of marriage - which her parents reject, viewing publishers as common tradesmen. But Beatrix, with encouragement from Norman's sister Millie (Emily Watson), is determined to grab her chance of happiness, until fate intervenes.
Review by Louise Keller:
Don't be surprised if you shed a little tear in Miss Potter. This enchanting biopic about the world of the creator of Peter Rabbit is warm and funny, revealing and moving. 'There's something delicious about writing the first words of a story,' says Renée Zellwegger's Beatrix Potter. 'You never know where they will take you.' For Potter, the direction of her life is fuelled by her imagination, and channeled into the characters she creates on paper - with pencil, paper and watercolour. First time writer Richard Maltby Jr has constructed an accessible script that canvasses the life and times of this classic children's author under the baton of director Chris Noonan in his first project since his debut feature, Babe.
Zellwegger imbues Potter with a mix of childlike wonder and independent strength of mind, as she battles against the attitude of the times, when women are expected to marry and stay at home. Flash-backs to her childhood (Lucy Boynton, outstanding as the young Beatrix) allow us to understand her circumstances. There's an air of restraint and formality about the world into which she is born. Home schooled, she lived a secluded life, compensating for her loneliness by creating her own friends that were inspired by her pets. But they were more than sketches to the child whose lively imagination allowed her to fabricate tales with which she amused herself and others. Her characters literally jumped off the page and kept her company throughout her life.
Her budding relationship with Ewan McGregor's publisher Norman Warne unfolds beautifully, despite the ever-present watchful eye of a chaperone. When Potter meats Warne's spinster sister Millie (Emily Watson), there's an instant connection 'I warn you - I am prepared to like you very much,' Millie states, after which time she quickly becomes an ally. Also canvassed is the fractious relationship with Potter's snooty mother (Barbara Flynn), and her supportive father (Bill Paterson). There are some lovely touches when characters like Peter Rabbit wiggles his ears or Jemima Puddle-Duck delivers a dose of attitude, with the magic of subtle animation. 'Any more of that and I'll paint you out,' warns Potter.
Noonan's film captures the essence of the Beatrix Potter's magic, making the film not only an involving and enjoyable treat, but ensuring a new revival of her unforgettable characters.
Special features on the DVD include Chris Noonan's audio commentary, a making of featurette, music video by Katie Melua and photographic slideshow.
Published July 12, 2007
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MISS POTTER: DVD (G)
CAST: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Bill Paterson, Lloyd Owen, Richard Mulholland, Lucy Boynton, Barbara Flynn
PRODUCER: David Kirschner, Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer, Corey Sienega, David Thwaites
DIRECTOR: Chris Noonan
SCRIPT: Richard E. Maltby jnr
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn
EDITOR: Robin Sales
MUSIC: Nigel Westlake (addition by Rachel Portman)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Martin Childs
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 25, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by director Chris Noonan; Making of Featurette; music video; photo slideshow
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
DVD RELEASE: July 11, 2007