Idol Chatter

potter_idol.jpgWho knew that the story behind the tale of Peter Rabbit could be a perfect date movie, a family friendly drama, and a feminist–not to mention environmental–manifesto all at the same time? In the style of “Finding Neverland,” “Miss Potter,” released this week on DVD, whimsically chronicles the life of children’s author Beatrix Potter from her repressed childhood to her unprecedented success as a female writer and artist.
But you don’t have to be a fan of her books to appreciate her courage, wit, and intellect amidst heartbreak and loneliness–which is why “Miss Potter” is hands down my must-see DVD pick for this week.
Beatrix Potter (Rene Zellweger) grew up in a affluent home in Victorian London where she seemed destined to live a life of a tragic spinster forced to take care of her cranky parents. Her only escape from a dreary existence comes from the sketches she draws of the creatures she dreamed up back in her childhood to entertain her brother. In a moment of malcontent at the ripe old age of 32, Beatrix dares to meet with a publisher about placing a series of her illustrations of animals into a book. The owners of the company scoff at the likelihood of her success, but they take on the project as a means of keeping their hapless youngest brother (Ewan McGregor) occupied and out of their hair.
Not only does Potter’s book become a huge success, but the youngest brother begins to pursue a romance with Beatrix amidst protest from her family that he is not worthy of marrying into her station in society. However, Beatrix soon becomes a woman of independent means and begins to defy social conventions at every turn, much to her mother’s dismay.
I can’t say that McGregor and Zellweger are perfectly cast in these roles, and the movie is an odd mix of many different cinematic elements, including some brief animation sequences. But in the end what shines through is Potter’s legacy. I found it deeply inspiring that considering her great wealth and success, she lived a life of relative quiet and simplicity while devoting herself to conservation and preserving the environment.
So while some critics have bashed the film for its sentimental, breezy, earnest style, I suggest instead you listen to the words of Potter who reminds us in the movie that we should all dare to begin a new journey, because we never know where that journey can take us.

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