Review: Miss Potter (2006)


Why do I keep watching movies with Renée Zellweger in them, when will I ever learn?

Written By: Richard Maltby Jr.
Directed By: Chris Noonan

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ll say it again, post-Jerry Maguire I detest Renée Zellweger as an actress more than any man should. When friends tell me that they can’t stand a certain actor I always wonder why, then I remember my own feelings of contempt for Miss Zellwegger and my wonderment disappears. In Miss Potter we have been given a movie that could have been good, not great, but good. If only it had been given a lead actress as well, but instead Renée Zellweger was given the titular role of Beatrix Potter and the film suffered for it. Just thinking about her attempt to act British, constituting an unbearably red and scrunched up face, is off putting to insane levels.

Miss Potter utilizes flashbacks a few different times, and they happen to be the best part of the movie. The problem with them is that they are so much better than the present day material that I wish I could have been taken to the world of the flashbacks alone. Watching young Beatrix, portrayed by a much better actress mind you, spread her artistic wings and invent many of her well known characters was far more interesting than the lifeless love story taking place in the present day.

Therein lay the biggest stumbling block with Miss Potter, the love story. It’s typical Hollywood, I know the movie is British, pap. The idea of love between Beatrix and Norman is just that, an idea. We are never given any reason to believe in their love, we don’t feel any investment in their characters or their supposed love. One second they are working together, then they look at each other a few times and next thing you know they are proclaiming their undying love for one another. It’s all unbelievable romantic melodrama and does lead into a crucial point in the film that fails to resonate with the audience.

After Norman dies and Beatrix breaks down the movie rests on the audience being invested in Beatrix and feeling for her. During that sequence I sat eyes flirting to and fro, but completely unmoved and numb to any emotion for Beatrix. I never became invested in any of the characters, only in the flashback world did I share the faintest glimmer of interest in what happened to Beatrix. In that world the characters feel more fleshed out, unlike the present world where they are a collection of ideas as opposed to actual people.

I know I gave a pretty harsh review, but Miss Potter isn’t a terrible film. It’s a decent film that could have been better with some more fleshing out of the story and characters or a decision to stay completely in the past with young Beatrix. More focus on the neat effect of Beatrix’s artwork coming to life on the page would also have helped, that was a neat little touch. But, Miss Potter didn’t do any of those things and it ended up a shallow and poorly acted, in the one obvious area, movie that isn’t worth your time. You want to get to know Beatrix Potter then pick up one of her children’s books, but avoid Miss Potter, unless you can find a flashback only cut somewhere!




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