Miss Potter **1/2
Biopics are prime bait for the Oscars, and this is indeed the time of year where they reign supreme. Thankfully "Miss Potter" is one of the first biopics in recent memory that does not involve the films topic to be falling into the world of drugs and alchohol, although of the title character of this film did get involved it that world, it might have been a little more interesting. "Miss Potter" plays it very safe, and is a by the numbers story of Beatrix Potter, whose children books are one of the most popular in the world-something strange considering she was a single woman when she wrote them. Not only is it unthinkable for a woman to stay single in these times, but it is unthinkable for them to even bother doing something with their lives. And it isn't a complete waste-the acting is fine especially-but the film is almost too safe, too whimsical, and far too predictable to be considered good, let along be in the running for any awards. But then again, safe, whimsical and predictable are just about the only films often in the running anyway.
Renee Zellweger gives a good performance as Beatrix Potter, who has been drawing ever since she was a little girl. She would bring her little sketchpad to her father, who would remark kindly, but her mother did the exact opposite. Her mother is a natural born housewife who doesn't expect her daughter to do anything for herself, but only for her family. Beatrix doesn't even really have any friends except for the characters that she draws-little bunnies with blue jackets especially. Beatrix brings her book "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" for a series of publishers, until one finally accepts. They assign Norman Warne to supervise the book, simply because he is their brother who recently joined the company, and they figured they could dump this book on him. Little did they know how big it would end up. Norman has big visions for the book-wanting it to stand out on bookshelves. Beatrix just wants the book to be cheap, even though that is a concept that is unthinkable for the publishers. Eventually the book is released, and over one thousand copies are sold at the local bookshop, and Potter is suddenly a household name for children. Norman convinces her to write another book and then another book and then another book, all the more falling deeper and deeper in love with her. Beatrix reciprocates his feelings, and eventually they decide that they want to marry. His sister, Millie, is thrilled by the idea, but her parents are a different story. How dare Beatrix Potter marry a common tradesman, they exclaim. But Norman and Beatrix decide to defy the odds and marry, even with the obstacles that lay in front of them.
"Miss Potter" claims to be a biopic, but seems like every single other British film that takes place during this time period. It didn't even have to be about Beatrix Potter, and could have pretty much been any average woman. And the typical "rich woman marries a common man' story has been done to death. I don't know how much truth is here, because I didn't do any research before or after but it came to the point where I began to wonder if Beatrix Potter's life was anything more than tired old cliches. Renee Zellweger is very good here, and Ewen McGregor brings that likable charm that he brings to every other film he has ever been in. The film also has some pleasant animation, in the vein of a book that would have come out back in those times. Beatrix would be drawing and see her hand drawn characters come to life right in front of her.
A final problem with the film is that it doesn't lead up to anything at all. There is not a conflict really, and only a small portion of Beatrix Potter's life is covered to be a full life story. They pad the script with small flashbacks to her childhood, which lead to another cliche when a "surprise" comes to the end. And when the film fades out, and we have little text that tells us what happened to Potter next, I was surprised that that was where the film ended. And nothing really happens-Beatrix doesn't really change, and this becomes nothing more than an entertaining piece of fluff. Overall, the film is far too "cute" and "by the books" to be something more than just a mere something to do. Very much like "Arthur and the Invisibles," this was released for one week in 2006 by the Weinstein Company as a way to try and snatch a few acting nominations, but again they didn't need to bother. "Miss Potter" isn't an awards film, and it doesn't even come close. This is light entertainment, and its audience will find this film in a heartbeat.