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Movie Review

Miss Potter

MPAA Rating: PG for brief mild language

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens, Family
Drama, Biography
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 12, 2007
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.
Relevant Issues
Copyright, The Weinstein Co.

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Featuring: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Perdita Weeks, Bill Patterson
Director: Chris Noonan
Producer: Renée Zellweger, Mike Medavoy, David M. Kirschner
Distributor: The Weinstein Co.

“The life of Beatrix Potter is the most enchanting tale of all.”

Copyrighted, The Weinstein Co.

Why they left “Miss Potter” to come out on DVD, instead of in theaters in most areas, I will never know. This is an excellent film rich in history, attention to detail, and stunning landscapes. The acting is top notch, and all characters, whether they be main or of small importance are expertly rounded out and believable.

“Miss Potter” glides effortlessly between Beatrix Potter’s childhood and adult life just prior to her success as a children’s writer in the beginning hour or so. That is to establish the reasons she keeps to herself, loves her father most, and develops a real-life (to her, anyway) relationship with her art work and story telling.

In 1902 turn of the century England, a woman was expected to wed in her teens, and if not, she stayed and cared for her aging parents until they passed on. 32 year old Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) had other plans in mind for her life which did not include marriage for money or class or finding herself dependant on or with her parents. Her father Rupert Potter (Bill Paterson) remained supportive of her independence while her mother Helen Potter (Barbara Flynn) did nothing short of arm-twisting to get Beatrix to turn from her shameful ways, and marry into station.

Miss Potter’s motto was, “Present oneself to the world all one’s life, and look on it as an adventure.” And surely she did do that.

With her chaperone Miss Wiggin (Matyelok Gibbs) ever closely in toe, Miss Potter swept from publisher to publisher in London until she came across the Warne brothers Publishers, who just to get their little brother off their backs and into the family enterprise, accepted Miss Potter’s “Bunny Book,” as they called it, for publishing. They believed not many people would buy it, but that it would be able to turn a small profit while affording their younger brother, Norman, his first assignment.

Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor) calls on Beatrix to confer on her incredible book about four bunnies by the name of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail… and Peter Rabbit and immediately a bond is set that will turn children’s publishing upside down. Not to mention that, in the mix, a beautiful love story ensues.

Beatrix and Norman’s sister, Millie Warne (Emily Watson), become instant friends. It matters not to them that Beatrix considers her drawings not merely watercolor on paper (“When I see something unusual, I am not content to just look at it, I must capture it.”), but real flesh and blood friends.

She often talked to Peter and friends as though they were perched right on her knee. Through the telling of the story, we know that Beatrix Potter was eccentric and ahead of her time, not crazy for talking to her characters, but a true story telling genius. Without her relationship with her characters, she never could have told her stories, to adults and children alike, with such crystal clear realism and wonder.

As the months roll by and her books become known to children, not just in London but far beyond, it becomes unmistakable that Beatrix has become not just an accomplished writer, but a true artist. The final satisfaction is when her father tells her how proud he is of her, right in front of her disapproving mother. It mattered not at the time that she was an unmarried woman in her 30’s, but now a published author, independent and self-supporting.

I believe the biographical story is wonderful, full of the imprint of women branching out and becoming a force able to stand alongside men, not compete with them, that the early 20th century stands for, yet at the same time the love story alone between Norman Warne and Beatrix Potter is the stuff of sweetness, tragedy, and the human spirit.

Any family, boys and girls alike, can watch this enchanting film, and not one word or scene can be considered inappropriate. Although not a Christian-based film, “Miss Potter” is full of the qualities our Father in Heaven teaches us. Chaste love until marriage, respect for family as well as the individual, morality. That God knows your heart and will give you the desire of it, if you stay within His will and be patient. That sacrifice is hard, but sometimes needed. And the definite love for nature and all that God has created. That all God’s creatures deserve to be cultivated and cared for, not just for the time being, but for all time.

Beatrix Potter eventually bought a country home in the Lake District she had visited with her family since she was 10 years old. There she made her own way, going on to become the best selling children’s writer of all time. She penned and illustrated 23 Peter Rabbit books in all, selling 40 million in the English language alone.

Through the sale of her “little books,” as she called them, Miss Potter was able to save working farmlands around her beloved Hilltop Farm from irreversible change, cultivate, preserve, and donate over 4,000 acres of farmland to the British people through the Land Preservation Trust. This beautiful natural landscape remains the same as it was over 100 years ago and is still visited today.

God does guide our steps, so we must take His hand and know that beauty is worth preserving… as long as we let Him lead, as Beatrix Potter once said, “…Who knows where the journey will lead.”

Violence: None / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer Comments
Positive—This was one of the most delightful movies I have seen in years. Very touching. Nothing offensive to the Christian viewer, in fact, it was nice to see a secular movie that was just plain enjoyable.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Sandi Bonavita, age 53
Positive—This was a beautiful movie! I would definitely watch it again. Our entire family enjoyed it, even my 13 year old brother who is not easily satisfied. …I would highly recommend it to anybody, and it is certainly morally suitable for any age.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Kristy, age 27
Positive—This was a wonderful movie, opening the viewer’s eyes to the life of one of the most successful authors of children’s books. The characters were very well developed and Renee Zellwegger portrays Beatrix in a way that has you love her and feel for her as she endures her victories and tragedies. I’m not sure what got this movie a PG-rating, because I heard nothing objectionable throughout the entire movie, and I am very sensitive to language. So although this wasn’t a movie that espoused faith like another great film this year (“Amazing Grace”), it still was creative, wonderful, emotional, and a joy to watch. I would recommend it.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Mark Cummings, age 47
Positive—Absolutely outstanding. This film is so beautifully done in every way: scenery, script, costume, and storyline. Zellweger shines as Beatrix Potter. I love the way the director took such gentle care with this biography, making sure to include the smallest of details that will remind you over and over, why Potter is so beloved. If you have the time, take a few moments before you watch it to get reacquainted with her best friends; Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Two Bad Mice. At the very least, check out her early illustrations. This movie is perfectly clean for the entire family, although the little ones might be bored. After all, it’s a biography. I will be placing this film with my all time favorites—“Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma,” “One Night with the King.” If you don’t get the chance to see it at the theater, make sure you rent it. You won’t be disappointed.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Diana O, age 38
Positive—My husband (42) and I watched this movie together, and felt it was one of the best we had watched in a really long time. Although it is not christian, it is uplifting and the film making is imaginative and glorious. I am going to let my boys (13 and 10) watch it too, I know they will love it.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Sonnette Smith, age 40
Positive—This has to be one of the most delightFILLED movies I have ever seen. My 5 year old and soon to be 7 year old sat on the couch and watched it together under blankets and cuddled! We all thought it was a truly wonderful movie and story. I wish that our men/women relationships were as pure as they were portrayed in that time in this movie. It is so saddening now to see teen girls, not only being seductive in there dress but throwing themselves at other boys and men. This movie showed how courtship should have been done—with purity, modesty and respect. Beatrice showed respect to her parents decisions, even when she wanted so much to marry her friend right then. I would like to see more movies made like this!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Claire Guthrie, age 37
Positive—My husband and I are youth leaders at our church and are always on the lookout for movies we can play for the youth on movie nights. This movie was fabulous! Not once did I have to flinch or worry that a parent would question anything about it. It has a beautiful storyline, and the animation is so cute! The teens at our church loved it!
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Monica, age 30
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie is definitely my new favorite! My family and I went to see it twice, which is extremely rare for us. I was moved by how realistic it was, in terms of the REAL feeling/situation of romance and her love of nature and art. Since this is not labeled a Christian movie, I can’t give it an “excellent” rating. but if I could I most certainly would!! Five stars, two thumbs up, this movie should be rated G (although young kids might find it a little boring) and is a must see for everyone. Beatrix and Norman not only model what true romance and love should be, but they also make a fine biography movie. I truly wish that there were more movies like this one!!
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Jen Thaine, age 15
Positive—I love this movie! It’s a very cute story that’s now on my top 10! I laughed and cried (when her lover died), and it was a great film.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Jen, age 13
Positive—I thought this movie was GREAT!!! It was so cute!! It made me cry alittle though because of what happens to her fiance. But I think they hired the right actors to play every part! I twas great. I kept saying, “Mom, I’m going to bed.” But I got so into the story that I couldn’t budge!! I thought it was one of the best movies I have ever seen! TWO THUMBS UP!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Emily, age 12