Friday, 19 January 2007

Miss Potter - Review by Carmody Wilson

Director: Chris Noonan
Screenwriter: Richard Maltby Jnr
Running Time: 92 mins
Certificate: PG

Renee Zellweger’s career as an executive producer should come to an end. Perhaps if it had never begun the world would be spared another twee, cuter-than-thou portrait of Long Ago England and the feisty heroines that populated the place. Miss Potter, directed by Chris Noonan (Babe), and starring Zellweger, attempts to tell the story of author and illustrator Beatrix Potter and the feminist path she painted with her success. Potter, a woman from a wealthy industrialist family, impressively forged her way to fame as an author when most of her sex were confined to homes and nurseries. Ewan McGregor plays her publisher Norman Warne, and Emily Watson lends a hand as Warne’s maiden sister Millie.

The film tries desperately to be about feminism and triumph of the will against masculine social conventions, but manages only to be an irritating showcase of Zellweger’s mouth. It is completely distracting how her mouth overworks itself into a pouting, puckering distraction with every change of emotion. There is far too much Zellweger. She is simply not a strong enough actress to pull this mess of a picture together. McGregor does some unctuous, smirky moustache acting, and Emily Watson, gamely playing a supporting spinster role, is utterly wasted here. There is a pervading sense of smugness about Miss Potter, as if all involved have some dirty joke up their respective puffed sleeves, perhaps the secret punch line being revealed every time Zellweger squeals “Oh Mr. Warne!” Someday everyone else will be let in on it, but until then, Miss Potter remains a pithy, predictable parable peopled with actors who had nothing in the running for awards season.

The story of Beatrix Potter is an interesting one and deserves to be told to a wide audience. It’s a shame now that the pall of Miss Potter will render this pioneering author’s celluloid story to the broom closet for another few years.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find Ms Wilson's scathing account of Rene's performance interesting as Wilson herself has been known to make use of the lip.
However, I agree with her overall review.