Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Miss Potter

Miss Potter
Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Bill Paterson and Barbara Flynn

Rated: PG 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: December 29, 2006 Released by: The Weinstein Company

Attenuated and upbeat, presumably for family audiences, Miss Potter is a deceptive reflection of the enormously talented woman who would create the likes of Peter Rabbit.

Renee Zellweger doesn't find it hard to whip up a spot-on English accent (after two Bridget Jones movies) as Beatrix Potter, a woman who would encounter some harsh realities.

In London, at the turn of the 20th Century, Beatrix, at 32, was shockingly unmarried and content with making up stories and drawing pictures. She was quite good at the botanical variety.

Ewan McGregor, Zellweger's Down With Love co-star, is the publisher, Norman Warne, who gets Beatrix on the path to storybook heaven, while becoming her soulmate. Emily Watson's Millie, Norman's sister, will be her lifelong friend and confidante.

Bill Paterson and Barbara Flynn appear in good form as Beatrix's sanctimonious, almost snooty Victorian parents who would be instrumental in making her life more wretchedly complicated.

Our indefatigable heroine is a pioneer akin to Susan B. Anthony; feminism and legacy have significant impact. Al Gore would be on her side for her ecological views.

An inconvenient truth about Miss Potter is that it is more prosaic than provocative. And it shows in Zellweger's physical, broad strokes of the character, hardly how endearing she made the fretful, perky Bridget Jones. McGregor lays on charisma with awkward, if surprising moments. Much better is the understated spirited work of Watson, embodying the allure of an artistic woman of a new age.

Australian director Chris Noonan works elegantly from a screenplay by Richard Maltby Jr. with lush accoutrements from his crew. But, unlike his genuine sincerity with humans and animals in Babe, he fallaciously manages to relate a sweet, compact yarn affectionate to where she lived and her characters (nicely brought in snippets to animated life). Still, lukewarm to what really made Beatrix an enduring, exulting figure.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Miss Potter       C+ A+     B+

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