Miss Potter (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/01/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Flawed but nonetheless enjoyable drama with strong performances and a number of genuinely charming scenes.

What's it all about?
Set in early 20th century London, Miss Potter stars Renee Zellweger as much-loved children's author Beatrix Potter. Largely dispensing with her childhood (bar a couple of flashbacks), the film takes up her story from when her publishers agree to take on her books, which is how she comes to meet Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor).

Beatrix falls in love with Norman and finds a lifelong friend in his free-spirited sister Millie (Emily Watson). However, Beatrix's snobbish parents (Barbara Flynn and Bill Paterson) disapprove of the match and encourage her to wait a while, a decision that proves disastrous.

The Good
Zellweger gives a weird, twitchy and slightly mannered performance as Potter, which is disconcerting at first, until you start to think that actually Potter was probably a bit weird and twitchy herself. However, Ewan McGregor is wonderful as Warne and they have a number of romantic scenes together (particularly the ones with the music box) that are genuinely delightful.

There's also strong support from Emily Watson, whose free-spirited character gives a hint of lesbianism, even if the film never says it out loud.

The Great
Director Chris Noonan includes the occasional animated glimpse of Potter's characters (Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck et al), which initially seems like a rather twee and irritating conceit but it pays off brilliantly during a genuinely disturbing nervous breakdown sequence. It's also beautifully shot and makes strong use of Potter's beloved Lake District locations.

The main problem with the film is that it's too slight and, at 92 minutes, it's surprisingly trim for a biopic. In addition, some of the scenes fall flat, particularly the tired cliche of the comedy montage of unsuitable suitors.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is an odd film in many ways, but the romantic scenes work brilliantly, thanks to McGregor's genuinely charming performance.

Film Trailer

Miss Potter (PG)
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Content updated: 19/09/2018 16:01

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