Monday, May 19, 2008

Miss (Beatrix) Potter

Indulged in the recent costume drama/biopic Miss Potter over the weekend, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. This one flickered in and out of theaters, so I was braced for another Becoming Jane. However, it was surprisingly charming. Rather light, not big on complex side characters, but well enough told and acted to get past a not terribly dramatic storyline. Zellweger and McGregor were great together, as they were in the more colorful but intermittently awful Down with Love. The pretty score was by Rachel Portman, who I've liked since her fantastic score for Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow, also with McGregor). (Incidentally, she wrote an opera based on St. Exupery's The Little Prince that just finished its premiere in San Francisco.)

Briefly, the story is about Beatrix Potter's rise to fame and independence in her thirties, when she's a spinster living in her parents' house, fighting with her mother, and trudging around looking for a publisher for her 'bunny book.' Enter McGregor as sympathetic young publisher, and fill in the gaps yourself. Flashbacks to Potter's childhood were useful, not annoying, and when her drawings spring to life to interact with her imagination, it works surprisingly well without making her look insane. I also can't stress enough how insanely beautiful the location shots are; it makes me want to head straight for the Lake District next time I'm in England. The film could have been terrible, and I would still rewatch it just for that.

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