Stars: Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor
I am probably the very last person who has ever been interested in children’s books. Amazon Instant Video provided something to watch on an empty Saturday night, and I stumbled across this film about Beatrix Potter. Of course, the name “Peter Rabbit” is recognized worldwide, but I knew nothing about the author behind the successful children’s stories. It’s apparent that I’ve missed much in the area of children’s literature!
Being 32 and single in 1902 wins her the name of “spinster,” until Beatrix meets the man she falls in love with. Played by Ewan McGregor, Norman Warne, is her first love who is in the family publishing business and works closely with her on her various releases. They become engaged, but her family vehemently forbids the match due to the usual class system between the upper class and working tradesmen. Nevertheless, Beatrix by now has become a self-supporting, rich woman from her royalties and spurns her parents’ advice. Unfortunately, her beau sadly passes away before they can marry.
The story continues with her bid for freedom from her parents’ domination, and she relocates to the Lake District where she buys a farm, and neighboring farms, to keep them protected from development. Another love interest enters her life, and once again she finally finds happiness as she continues to pen her children stories throughout the remainder of her life.
Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable film, with a sprinkle of fantasy. The filmmaker allows her endearing animal characters to come alive on her pages as she draws them. She calls them her “friends” who are the only ones who really know and understand Beatrix Potter. Though it seems odd that an artist/author should see her characters come to life on a page, I can attest from the muddled mind of my own stories, characters do tend to have a life of their own.
My only complaint was the casting of Beatrix. As much as I love Renee Zellweger in other roles, she makes a terrible English woman…no offense Renee. She is quite toned down and a bit dowdy in appearance, but she has a horrible habit of facial expressions that look just plain painful and unnatural. Picture a face after eating a sour pickle and that’s Renee as Miss Potter. As far as the other performers, I had no qualms, but Renee really did nothing for me in the role. It appears, though, that Renee was also one of the Executive Producers of the film, which probably is why she played the part that should have been given to another.
All in all it was entertaining, informative, and cute. As an author myself, I’m always intrigued about stories of authors and the creative gifts and expressions that guide their lives.
If you’re curious about the creator of Peter the Rabbit, it’s worth the watch. The scenery isn’t bad either. For more detailed information about the life and writings of Beatrix Potter, visit the Peter Rabbit website.