Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
Renée Zellweger … Beatrix Potter
Ewan McGregor … Norman Warne
Emily Watson … Millie Warne
Barbara Flynn … Helen Potter
Bill Paterson … Rupert Potter
Matyelok Gibbs … Miss Wiggin
Lloyd Owen … William Heelis
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David M. Kirschner
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|Distributor:||The Weinstein Co.|
“The life of Beatrix Potter is the most enchanting tale of all.”
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