Miss Potter
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (16th July 2007).
The Film

However she may appear as an awards show presenter, there's no denying Renee Zellweger has been very intelligent in choosing roles. Nominated at the Oscars twice for Best Actress and winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, she certainly has talent (and, it seems, a penchant for accents).

It is with these things she brings a naive charm to 'Miss Potter, the story of Beatrix Potter's relationship with her publisher, Norman Warne (Ewan McGregor). In such a movie, of course, not everything will go smoothly. Her parents (especially Beatrix's mother) won't allow the marriage, because of what will happen to her own social appearance.

The last half hour, though, takes an unexpected turn. In the hands of another director the material might be a bit silly or overdramatic or heavy handed, but Chris Noonan handles everything with a light, somewhat playful tone, making this feel like, well, one of Miss Potter's kids books. This doesn't take anything from the emotion or impact of the movie, as the innocent tone displays no judgment, and the viewer is left with nothing but what Beatrix feels.

Helping out with this style is the music and photography. The music is, well, light and playful, though never cartoony. It provides the perfect tone for the director's intention. Likewise, the cinematography is quite realistic, with splashes of amazing landscapes, and, believe it or not, animated rabbits.

Given Mrs. Zellweger's awards shows appearances, it might be appropriate she chose this movie. Being happy is more important than having approval, following your heart, and moving on. Not answering to others is probably the best, and sticking to your dreams will give you a happy life. The movie may seem a bit rosy, but they're trying to make a fairly tale, and though it may not be the most realistic experience, it certainly is a sweet one.

Video

There are two audio tracks, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and a French Dolby Dolby Digital 5.1 dub. This is a very simple movie, and the track reflects this; birds chirping and the occasional bit of score round out the only real ambiance the movie provides. Everything else comes from the front, and mostly the centre. The dialogue and other sounds come from the front, and are clear and clean. The mixing is well done, and subtle. The track is perfectly adequate for the movie.
English (hard of hearing) and Spanish subtitles help you out.

Audio

2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Genius Products did a good job with the picture. The colours are accurate, if slightly desaturated. The contrast is very good. The colours don't flicker and the black level is strong. The level of detail is also pretty nice, and even in darker scenes, there isn't much noise. The compression is also good and doesn't show any edge enhancement or other artifacts. The print looks a bit old, if grainy. It's a good picture.

Extras

The extra you can encounter here is an audio commentary by director Chris Noonan. Mr. Noonan does an okay job with the track, but for long periods of time he doesn't say anything. When he does talk, he praises a lot of people, which can be a bit tiresome. However, he does talk a lot about how the actors prepared themselves. He also talks about the on-set atmosphere, like the maid really taking care of the child actors. He also talks about Beatrix Potter, her life and her books. One bad thing is that he actually repeats himself a few times, especially when talking about Miss Potter's books.

Next are two featurettes. One is 'The Take of Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter' (20:21), which talks about, well, the books in Miss Potter's life. The series and their legacy are discussed, giving a good idea of what Miss Potter did with her career. The second featurette is 'The making of a Real-Life Fairy Tale' (22:17), and is a pretty nice making-of. Sure, there's talk about the actors and the director and the plot, but there's no endless praising. The director, for example, says, of course, Renee Zellweger is a great actress and all, but also talks about how she prepared and how she inhabited the role (like Mrs. Zellweger talking with an accent throughout the shoot). The thoughts Mrs. Zellweger has about Miss Potter and how she prepared for the role are also pretty interesting. Ewan McGregor also has a funny story to tell. There's behind the scenes footage throughout this thing, which is pretty nice to see.

To finish off the disc, there's the "When You Taught Me How to Dance" Music Video Performed by Kati Melua (3:24) and the theatrical trailer (2:29). The music video has lots of clips from the movie, with clips of the singer with her guitar on stage. The trailer is very sweet and gives the perfect tone for the movie.

Packaging

The movie comes in a case with those two latches on the side, making opening the case a bit annoying, though the DVD is secure, I suppose.

Overall

The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


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