Directed by Chris Noonan
Produced by David Kirschner
Written by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Cast: Starring Renée Zellweger,Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Bill Paterson, Barbara Flynn,Matyelok Gibbs and Lloyd Owen
The pivotal moments of one of the best selling children’s authors of all time: Beatrix Potter
Miss Potter is an underrated gem that has received little fanfare over the years. It was a modest success critically and I’m unable to tell if it was a success financially. Biopics are great vehicles for delivering great life lessons and Miss Potter follows in this great tradition well. Beatrix Potter’s life sits at a standstill. Her parents are nagging her to marry one of the arrogant suitors they found while she wants to live the life of a single woman forever. Beatrix brushing off matrimony is not only an important social commentary but a reflection of the culture war between the dying Victorian sensibilities and the rising suffrage movement. This political undercurrent is subtle. An overt political message, I feel would have diluted the personal journey that is the heart of the film.
Miss Potter has the curious feel of a ”Disney movie” from its kid-friendly charm and grace. The wonderous watercolor animals that Beatrix paints inject a fun artistry to the otherwise already strong cinematography. Also, the way these watercolor paintings animated briefly is jokingly surreal.
Beatrix is no spring chicken yet her inner child hasn’t died out. For much of her life, Beatrix’s life was determined by her controlling parents. Her attempt to be an author is a chance to carve out her own destiny. It becomes a life-defining act that gives her a new outlook on life. The ensuing romance with Norman is a natural outgrowth of this new outlook. So, the romance feels vital to the narrative and the chemistry between the two comes off substantial. Norman seems like a perfect lover because he treats Beatrix’s work with the utmost heartfelt admiration but also they share a personal struggle to prove themselves. This shared experience makes their romance a deeply touching and their connection so transparently clear to us.
A tragedy strikes at Beatrix that changes the trajectory of her happiness forever. This stroke of sadness will always stay with Beatrix. Even, as the narrative takes a downturn tonally, the whimsical energy of the narrative doesn’t fade away. As Beatrix’s life enters its most emotional soul-searching, Beatrix slowly blisses with the deep-seated maturity that was stirring inside her. She has an easy excuse to be a committed pessimist, but her example not to give up hope is inspiring.
Miss Potter is a wonderous biopic that is romantic but with a bittersweetness. Yet, Miss Potter’s romanticism, in the end, is strong enough to transmit a picture of a strong and moral person. Miss Potter may disappoint some people with its surface level story, but I found its simplicity more a strength than a weakness.