Beatrix Potter is the best-selling children's book author of all time, according to a tag at the end of Miss Potter, the new bio-pic about her. And yet, if you took the film's word for everything, you'd also believe that Potter was potty -- that she was a slightly insane artist and author of stories about bunnies, ducks, and hedgehogs, a woman who saw the animals as friends and really believed that her drawings of them came to life before her eyes and interacted with her. Or you'd believe that, short of madness, Potter was prone to hitting the laudanum.
Miss Potter opens in the early-20th-century London bedroom/studio of Beatrix. The camera shows the period paintbrushes, period paints, period paper, and period porcelain palette of an artist at work. And then the camera pulls back to reveal the very non-period Texan, Renée Zellweger. Just like that, as soon as Zellweger opens her clenched jaw to utter her first supposedly Brit-inflected syllables, the film suffers a mortal wound -- and all those periods become question marks.
As the plot unfolds, Potter is already a 30-plus unmarried woman who lives in the attic of her parent's house, an old maid and a bit of a shame to the family. She has not married despite her mother's best efforts to match her with a suitably class-equivalent mate.
Read the rest of Greg Akers' review of Miss Potter from this week's Flyer.