"There's something delicious about writing the first words of a story; you never know where they'll take you," beloved children's author Beatrix Potter (Renee Zellweger) says in a voiceover in the opening scene of Miss Potter.
With this cinematic peek at the life of the woman behind classics such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, and the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, we get to experience this truism in reverse. Most of us have already seen where Peter, Jemima, and the like have taken us (via Potter's 23 bestsellers); with Miss Potter, we get the delight of seeing where they—and their author—traveled to get there.
Growing up in London in the latter half of the 1800s, shy Beatrix (Lucy Boynton) has pet bunnies, mice, and birds. When her wealthy family vacations in Scotland and the English Lake District (the latter of which is beautifully captured in lush pastoral scenes), the girl encounters frogs, ducks, and hedgehogs. All of these animals make their way to Beatrix's sketchpad—and her heart, as she comes to know the characters they inspire as friends. In those pre-TV days and with no playmates about during her rather academic and sheltered childhood, Beatrix conjures up stories about these animal friends to entertain her younger brother and herself.
Years later, in her early thirties, Beatrix sells her illustrations for greeting cards and eventually interests F. Warne & Co. in publishing her story about a naughty little bunny in a light blue coat with brass buttons. Utterly thrilled, Beatrix has no idea the Warne brothers, Harold (Anton Lesser) and Fruing (David Bamber), have decided to pass the silly little project on to their younger brother, Norman (Ewan McGregor), who's just asserted ...