Miss Potter

| December 31, 2006

I am a fan of period pieces. Films set in England before The War. Or the United States when the country was young and its leaders were not so full of themselves that they would start a useless war. For that reason, I was very much looking forward to Miss Potter, the story of author Beatrix Potter, who wrote the most read children’s books this side of Harry Potter.
It is in 1902 that Miss Potter, 32 and a very modern woman, take her stories of Peter Rabbit to the publishing house run by the brothers Warne. Their younger brother has been pestering them to join the business and they think that Miss Potter’s “bunny book” would be a good diversion for him while they get on with the serious job of publishing.
During the next few years, Potter and Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor – Star Wars 1,2,3 and Big Fish) develop a working relationship that blossoms into more. It was very cute to watch, but I kept waiting for McGregor’s mustache to fall off. Also cute to watch is the special relationship between Potter and her characters which come to life on the page and are the source of constant amusement. What I didn’t get enough of was Emily Watson, who plays Norman’s sister. She, like Potter, is a women who truly thinks that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.
I have read and heard some other reviews that say that this movie is very good but its star, RenĂ©e Zellweger is miscast in the title role. I wish I hadn’t had that thought put in my brain (like I am putting into yours) because while I was watching the film, I kept thinking it would have been interesting to see Watson (Hilary and Jackie, Gosford Park) and her switch parts. I do not usually do that – decide which actor can be in another role, but Watson would was right there on screen with Zellweger (Cinderella Man, Chicago) so the comparison was easy.
Director Chris Noonan had not directed a movie since 1995’s Babe. I think that is a pity because both with that movie and this, he has told a very nice story that makes you glad you went to the theater. This film is rated PG and would be a good one for the kids, especially if they have read the books.

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