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Miss Potter
The annual, well-produced biopic
Miss Potter
Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor Star in "Miss Potter".
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $37,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

August 18th, 2006: Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) is trapped in a society that does not understand her. Her family doesn’t even understand her. Her parents, Rupert (Bill Paterson) and Helen Potter (Barbara Flynn), are convinced that the life of wealth and privilege they provide her with is more than adequate. They continuously discourage Beatrix from any intellectual activities and persuade her to take care of the household instead. Thankfully, she still finds time to amuse herself with her writings and illustrations. Encouraged by her friends, she approaches a publisher named Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor), who is immediately thrilled by her work. Soon, her first book is a popular item and Beatrix is able to wriggle free of her oppressive family, much to their disapproval. While her career as a children’s book author blossoms, she gains a new sense of independence. Even an unexpected romance with Norman develops shortly thereafter and soon the two are engaged to be married. Still, her wedding plans cause major friction with her parents back at home and Beatrix finds her problems continuing as she struggles for happiness and love.

What to Expect: Beatrix Potter, a British children’s novel writer and illustrator and one of the most famous authors from the early 20th Century, had to rebel against traditional society values in order to have a professional career as a writer. Her parents inherited all their wealth from their parents and had no need or desire to work for a living. They always insisted that Beatrix do the same and hoped that she would develop into an elegant lady rather than a career-driven woman. At the time, of course, the idea of a woman as a strong-willed professional was almost unheard of. Beatrix, however, could not resist indulging in her interests. Two of her passions were writing and drawing. Although she immersed herself in both as a hobby, she eventually gave in to persuasion from others and sought out a publisher. Her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was also probably her most famous one as it has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. She wrote a total of 24 books, most of which had titles beginning with “The Tale of…” like The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle or The Tale of Two Bad Mice. In her personal life, she did become engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne. Her parents objected to the wedding largely because they found it shameful that Norman had to work for a living, which is a fascinating reversal from what parents today typically find desirable in a bachelor for their daughter.

Article continues below

Miss Potter marks the return of director Chris Noonan following an 11-year hiatus. The filmmaker received widespread accolades for his 1995 family film about a talking pig called Babe. In fact, his directorial debut earned 7 Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Director and went on to win for Best Visual Effects. Noonan has claimed that there hasn’t really been a good reason to explain his absence since then, although he has admitted to being hesitant about his projects following Babe’s success. It seems that he couldn’t find material that was interesting to him and when he did, the producers did not like the directions in which he wanted to take the films. Miss Potter was first initiated some 14 years ago, but it was Cate Blanchett who brought it to Noonan, finally getting his attention and helping the project get underway. Eventually, Blanchett bowed out and Renée Zellweger took over the titular role.

The film will reunite Zellweger with her Down With Love costar Ewan McGregor. The two had great chemistry in the film, which should carryover to Miss Potter. Both are also perfectly tuned for this type of a romantic drama. While Zellweger has Jerry Maguire and Bridget Jones’s Diary to her credit, McGregor has starred in A Life Less Ordinary and Moulin Rouge! Biopics of this sort frequently garner Oscar buzz and Academy favorite Zellweger in particular may have another shot at the statuette since her character will go through an entire spectrum of emotions. Although not much is known about her character, two-time Oscar nominee Emily Watson will play Millie, Norman’s sister. She too is perfectly cast in a London-set period picture and should be stellar as always in a supporting role.

The $30 million biopic will follow Potter’s life and career, chronicling her rise to fame as one of the most successful children’s authors of all time. It will balance live-action with animation as it attempts to recreate her vivid imagination on screen. Although at first glance there may be a tendency to categorize the film as a family feature, Miss Potter will actually be a drama very much for adults. It will contrast the restrictive times against Potter’s very modern values by exploring the author’s life and daily struggle for independence in a society where women were viewed as a highly inferior sex. Furthermore, the drama will focus on her secret relationship with her publisher, which caused much grief in the family.


I’m providing a spoiler alert just in case, even though this is factual information that would be known by anyone who looked it up. Norman Warne died shortly before his wedding to Beatrix, which caused a major rift between her and her parents.


The script has been described as very emotional and I’m sure this sort of tragedy will have women reaching for their handkerchiefs.

One of the things I dislike about Hollywood productions is their tendency to parrot and absolutely exhaust any formulas or trends that might be working. Annual Broadway musical adaptations (Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Rent) and Japanese horror franchise remakes (The Ring, The Grudge) are just a couple I could think of right off the bat. Hollywood has a tendency to make films that are so closely related to each other, that the producers’ attempts to cash in on a popular genre or trend of the moment couldn’t be any more obvious. I’m sorry, but I see Miss Potter as this year’s Finding Neverland. The obvious association is that both films revolve around the personal tragedies of famous children’s book authors, not to mention that they both take place in England at the turn of the 20th Century. I’m sure that Miss Potter will have a unique story to tell, but it certainly has a similar vibe to Finding Neverland, which is probably quite intentional given the latter’s success.

In Conclusion: The drama should have a nice and heartwarming tone to it, despite also dealing with serious human issues. At the end of the day, a film that features a character that talks to animated creatures couldn’t possibly be that grim. Miss Potter is scheduled to open in very limited release in December just to put it into Oscar contention, but I cannot imagine it garnering the type of attention that Finding Neverland was able to get. Actually, the similarities may detract from it being taken seriously enough. Finding Neverland benefited from the viewers’ universal knowledge of Peter Pan, while Potter’s stories just may not be a part of people’s consciousness to the same degree. Miss Potter’s commercial success will rest largely on whether it can get a few Oscar nominations, which may prove to be relatively difficult.

Similar Titles: Finding Neverland, The Hours, Nanny McPhee
January 12th, 2007 (wide)
December 29th, 2006 (limited)
June 19th, 2007 (DVD)

The Weinstein Company LLC

Chris Noonan

Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Jane How, Bill Paterson, Barbara Flynn

Total: 66 vote(s).

Drama, Special Interests

Click here to view site

Rated PG for brief mild language

92 min





Miss Potter at AskMen.com

Miss Potter at RottenTomatoes.com

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