This film was… nice.  I think that’s a good word.  I don’t often like biographies, but it was entertaining enough; it wasn’t too horrible and it wasn’t too sad.  It also had animations of her pictures, which seemed a little pointless but were cute enough.

I’d give it a 3/5.  While I didn’t get bored like I have with some recent films, it also wasn’t all that engaging, requires knowledge of the period to properly appreciate and was slightly predictable in parts.

As it came out in 2006, it is already out on DVD.

London, 1902

30-something unmarried Beatrix (Renee Zellweger) is going from publisher to publisher – always under the watchful eye of quiet chaperone Miss Wiggin (Matyelok Gibbs) – trying to sell her book.

This film, not being about her struggle to get published, starts with the first publisher we see accepting her.  We find that they do have an ulterior motive and don’t really have any faith in her, but the joke’s on them as Beatrix and Norman (Ewan McGregor) make not just one, but a whole series of successful books.

Romance

Beatrix, who decided long ago that she wasn’t interested in ever getting married… yep.  Changes her mind when Norman proposes.

Alas, the sad part has to happen somewhere, and it does with his sudden death. Unfortunately, sad though it is, neither we nor Beatrix really dwell on it – I’m rather susceptible to crying at sad parts and I didn’t, which to me means it went wrong somewhere and I wasn’t involved enough.

She does spend a few days locked in her room, devastated over the death – and has the one scene where the animations make sense.

Moving forward

Losing Norman is the main drama, but is a comparatively short part of the film, especially when there was opportunity for more anger towards her parents – instead it just provides motivation to finally leave home.

She moves to what was supposed to be her and Norman’s country home, which she could afford with the money she’s made from the books.

When she arrives, she meets… yes! The grown up version of a boy she met during one of her country summers, and together they go to auctions to buy farmland in order to conserve the countryside.  [Was anyone else  waiting for the pictures to answer him?]

… And that’s it.  There’s a callback to the first scene, with Beatrix sitting in the same spot by the lake, and we’re filled in on her later accomplishments via on-screen text.

Conclusion

Being a biography, it of course had to stick to the truth; this felt like it was on a bit of a short leash, as there were at least two storylines that could, and probably would, otherwise have been developed further.

A perfectly good film; not too sad, no violence, even a little humour.  But unfortunately, not a lot else either.  At least, not if – I admit, like me – you don’t know enough about 1902 onwards to appreciate how difficult what she accomplished was.

Her voiceover at the beginning is the only mention of how an unmarried woman like her “shouldn’t” be going around visiting publishers, and her mother is snobby towards “trade workers.” But other than that, her quick success and no struggle does leave it seeming unremarkable given today’s mindset.

Deeper meaning aside, if you’re a fan of Beatrix Potter you will appreciate seeing her paint – and interact with her pictures – and getting to see her career,  family life, love life and her “interesting” almost-sister in law.

If you aren’t and you prefer something more obviously dramatic, this might not be for you.  Unless you just enjoy period films and British accents.

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