Miss Potter was being filmed while I wandered around the Lake District researching the area in the early days of the series, but I have only just caught up with the film. It's a feelgood movie that does not stick precisely to the facts of the life of Beatrix Potter, but is still, I think, pretty successful in capturing the spirit of the woman and her writing, and also the appeal of that wonderful part of England which captured her heart.
Renee Zellwegger plays Beatrix, and is quite captivating in the role. The cast as a whole is very good. Barbara Flynn, so often so likeable in so many roles, is a rather unappealing matriarch, but Bill Paterson is affable as Beatrix's dad. Ewan Macgregor plays the charming publisher (yes, such creatures definitely exist!) to whom she is secretly engaged. His sudden and tragic death is poignantly handled.
Lloyd Owen, son of the late Glyn, a stalwart of so many TV shows in the 60s an 70s, plays William Heelis, the solicitor whom Beatrix eventually marries. The name of Slater Heelis still survives; it's a legal firm respected in the North West to this day. But there's no doubt that the heart of the story is Beatrix's struggle to establish herself as an independently minded woman, and her passion for the Lakes. Zellwegger conveys all this very well indeed.
Heelis comments during the film about the London-orientation of Britain, and of course, nothing much has changed in that respect in more than a century. I like London a lot, but when I talk to friends from overseas, I often find that those who have visited England seldom get beyond London. This is a shame, because for all its merits, London posseses only a fraction of the country's must-see places. These undoubtedly include the Lake District, and it's due in no small measure to Beatrix Potter and the National Trust that the Lakes have been preserved in such a marvellous state for succeeding generations to enjoy. The film's a good one, but inevitably it can't convey the full grandeur of one of the most scenic and appealing areas in Europe. And dare I add, one of the best possible settings for a series of mystery novels!