By: Rianne Hill Soriano
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco
“Milk” is a highly affecting film. And its greatest assets are its director and cast. As a powerful tale about love, politics, human rights, and heartbreak, this spirited portrait of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay California activist elected to a major political office, lives up to its warm, emotional, non-preachy, and surprisingly jubilant slice of contemporary history.
This compelling biopic from the “Good Will Hunting” director Gus Van Sant is expansive yet intimate. His storytelling approach is filled with both passion and purpose. The story is steeped in tragedy, but the mood is exuberant and the energy is raw and bristling. In tandem with Sean Penn’s masterful performance, this cinematic masterpiece creates sufficient depth and emotional complexity to humanize the California icon who energized a historical movement during his period. Both triumphant and disturbing, it becomes a penetrating depiction of an unconventional political figure immersed in the chaotic struggles of his era.
The film’s lessons in political history feel sincere and involving. Beautifully detailed, evocative, and convincing, the many crowd and protest scenes provide believable scope to the civil rights movement that gripped and changed San Francisco during the 70’s. And it creates a loving, humanistic tribute to Milk, the courageous gay San Francisco supervisor who, along with Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated by fellow San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.
“Milk” has a powerful story to tell. Van Sant crafts the film with a gritty, documentary-like treatment infusing archive footages with the narrative film elements to give the action the astuteness and genuineness that will further engage the viewers. It truly makes a judicious use of contemporary newsreel with a tone both impassioned and restrained. It has an unflinching eye on putting emotion, breadth, intelligence, and candor to the factual timeline of Milk’s activism, his days in politics, and right down to the moment of jarring violence that ended his life. There is no concession to mere melodrama, nor a moment wasted… It understandably and movingly centers itself on the central character who discovered that in order to make the change he thought the world should have, he had to find his voice.
Sean Penn delivers a brilliant, transformational performance as Milk. Bolstered by an unquestionably outstanding turn in this potent and involving picture, his career-topping performance is so lifelike that the film earns its smiles and tears primarily through his uncannily three-dimensional performance – as if he were born to do the part. His luminous vivacity and soulful energy is truly electrifying. He disappears behind the upright shoulders and coquettish grin of the title role with great pride. His amazing embodiment of the gay activist and political leader makes him a feisty charmer who goes beyond the pink issue. He completely disappears to make Milk one of the most charismatic figures ever seen in the big screen. And he absolutely gets the job done without resorting to caricature type of portrayal.
“Milk” boasts of a great ensemble cast. From Penn’s magnificent performance to the supporting cast’s valuable contribution in the acting department, the film marches forward with profundity and purpose. Feeling authentic in every frame, it represents a thought-provoking, cathartic tale of courage and politics. What it lacks in daring narrative, it makes up with the electric portrayal of its radical subject. Josh Brolin is no less perfect as Dan White – his character is not depicted as a cartoonish villain but as a frustrated, emotionally underdeveloped man who lashed out at a low point in his life. Emile Hirsch as the gay activist Cleve Jones, James Franco as Milk’s lover Scott Smith, Alison Pill as campaign manager Anne Kronenberg, along with the rest of the supporting and minor characters, all play significant parts on this impressive piece.
The film’s various thematic, technical and aesthetic aspects all work well for the film’s totality: direction by Van Sant, screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, cinematography by Harris Savides, production design by Bill Groom, music by Danny Elfman, editing by Elliot Graham, the actors’ and actresses’ piercing performances, and all the other facets of the film production.
“Milk” is a master class on how a film based on a true story can be mounted into a rich, uplifting, and inspiring biopic. This cinematic opus conveys the humanity of the main character with simple but effective storytelling. While most message films tend to become polarizing, this noble picture proves how films with heavy themes about events of historic significance can be intimate, accessible, artistic, and entertaining through the power of simple human expressions. The film doesn’t quite escape the clichés of the biopic genre, but within its bounds, it still finds its own place and takes advantage of it. Van Sant’s innovative and passionate direction keeps things real and authentic without diluting the film’s colorful tone. He keeps things tidy, gentle, and digestible while expertly infusing humor and poignancy to the story. The filmmaking is admirable while the film feels deeply touching.
A tribute to a political figure who brought gay rights forward, “Milk” is a genuinely powerful political film that works equally well as a story of personal triumph. It is one of the more fascinating political biopics in recent memory and an immediate classic of gay cinema.February 23rd, 2009 Posted by Rianne | Biopic, Film Review, Films I Like, Gay/Lesbian, Hollywood Films, Period/Historical | no comments
Not Quite Enough
Submitted by: Rianne Hill Soriano
Some things on “Valkyrie works,” but not quite enough… Bryan Singer’s long-in-production war thriller falls short in pulsating an admirable tale about the courage and idealism of some Germans during the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler – undone by the cowardice and politics of others within the same sphere. Its technique is fine, but it misses its mark emotionally. It lacks the valuable inner conflicts to keep up with the war thriller that it tries to be. As a grandly ambitious movie with much potential, Singer delivers some suspense, but the film lacks emotional connection with the characters. It’s short of the epic scope and dramatic urgency that could make it a truly memorable piece.
“Valkyrie” raises timeless, universal questions about the demands of military duty when placed in conflict with higher principles. A meticulous thriller based on a large-scale conspiracy within the German army to assassinate Hitler, this anachronistic film is clearly not intended to be a history lesson nor be a character study – but to simply be an absorbing adult suspense film. However, while trying to ramp up its heroic aspects and cinematic bearing, the script and the Hollywood treatment simply aren’t strong enough to hold the audience’s interest. And it ends up being rather flattened in the process. Being based on a true story, the problem is not that people already know the outcome. The problem is the buildup which stops it from being the scintillating wartime thriller it could have been. Given the subject matter, it is nowhere near the gripping cinematic experience it aspires to become.
“Valkyrie” is handsomely mounted on the outside, but it is not quite distinguished in terms of capturing the human values of the German resistance. This film is grounded to be either a more cerebral thriller promoting artsy elements and approach, not a mere mindless action-suspense movie. Yet, it fails to connect the moral and political conflicts running through the story about love of country, revolt against the system, war, genocide, and even the more basic love and longing for the family. And amidst the thorough physical reconstruction of a real-life plot to assassinate Hitler during the last months of World War II, along with some deliverables on the acting side from the supporting cast, the tension and pacing yields too much towards the style and technique and not much towards the heart. For this reason, the general audience just sees the story on screen, someone plants a bomb, someone gets caught, someone gets killed, but they don’t feel much for the characters and the events. From the surface, all they appreciate are the occasional flourishes of visual panache; but they don’t get to sympathize well to the story – it’s more like just being respectful rather than becoming inspired. And from here, the film becomes rather shallow and clinical.
“Valkyrie” could have benefited from more scrutiny and complexity with a heart to become more riveting. Despite having a rich seam of moral ambiguity to mine, the bland characterizations are no deeper (and even less genuine) than Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg’s lost eyeball. It rarely lets the people get inside its characters as much as to compare to the attention provided by the external details of the plot – leaving too little for the inner realism of its participants. So when the plan begins to fall apart, audience sympathy is fatally missing. Like the coup in the story, it fails to sweep the viewers along for what should have been a suspense-filled and dramatic ride.
As a sleek, high-gloss WW2 thriller, “Valkyrie” seems more interested in process than in people. It works as a full-dress military drama fleshing out a historical footnote in vivid detail, but less the prime emotional strength. It merely makes fascism look more stylish and profound on the big screen like a typical vanity project streamlined with top period design, but its sense of opportunity to touch its viewers is left elsewhere. Moreover, there are even no convincing romantic/familial elements nor a coherent rhythm to its procedural parts to make the underlying story a truly engaging cinematic experience. The screenplay introduces a seemingly endless series of characters, but there’s no time to flesh out from any of them and make the audience worry about their fate nor feel pain to what transpired in their tragic story.
On a good light, Singer’s tightly controlled direction marshals his camera and sound well in lending the film such a stylistic “period” feel. The treatment of transforming the use of the German language to English during the first part of the film is something to appreciate in terms of understanding that this is a Hollywood movie vehicle primarily intended to English-speaking viewers (with regards to the film’s cultural correctness and related issues, I have nothing much to say as I’m not that familiar with German history). Personally, the most powerful moment of the film is the scene of Stauffenberg and his family inside their aristocratic home, bonding with his wife and costume playing children, going down the basement after hearing some bombing from the outside – with the Valkyrie tune carefully mounting a nice montage that builds up the kind of needed emotion to heighten how Stauffenberg came up with the idea of using the Valkyrie for their plot against Hitler. And there are some aspects of the genocide part near the film’s end making up for some artistic mounting as well.
The film makes ample use of a strong supporting cast to keep up with some of the film’s demands as an elaborate WW2 procedural. Disappointingly, the celebrity status and contemporary demeanor of Tom Cruise strongly overshadows his performance. As the major conspirator Stauffenberg, his character is off-putting and far beyond the issue considerably resolved with the film’s treatment as he plays a German with a pronounced American accent. His unconvincing turn as the head of a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler is primarily detracted by his ego-driven performance. His fellow conspirators in the story including Bill Nighy as General Friedrich Olbricht, Thomas Kretschmann as Major Otto Ernst Remer, Kenneth Branagh as Major-General Henning von Tresckow, and Terence Stamp as Ludwig Beck makes the film survive some dodgy dialogues; but the supporting performances can only do so much. Overall, the cast doesn’t make convincing enough Nazis and there is no sinister rigidity and fear that could have really enhanced the thriller aspect of the story.
“Valkyrie,” like the conceived plot to kill Hitler, is commendable for its premise, but it is not well-executed. The cold and metallic staging just doesn’t work for the demanding audience’s satisfaction. It’s difficult to get immersed in this glossily mechanical recreation of the 1944 plot by German officers to assassinate their dictator. It feels more like a sketchy and narrow thriller that has less impact than expected. It’s bland and underwhelming whether in its historical value or in its escapist, artistic, and moral sides. It’s superficially executed, boringly carried out, and utterly easy to forget.February 11th, 2009 Posted by Rianne | Adaptation and Films with Related Inspirations from Lit, Biopic, Film Review, Heroes/Superheroes, Hollywood Films, Melodrama, Period/Historical, Suspense/Thriller, War/Spy | no comments
The Two Sides of the American Dream
By Rianne Hill Soriano
Ridley Scott solidly delivers a gritty and intense crime drama with ‘American Gangster.’
It may not be that groundbreaking and original in terms of concept and treatment, but Scott pumps it up with a fine dose of the grits and grinds of the 1970’s American drug wars. He cinematically retells a true-to-life story into a finely weaved cinematic tapestry about absolute corruption and its effects on the key players and the casualties of the crossfire. He recreates a story of the past and immerses the present audience into the intricate logistics of crime and drug pushing with the right pace and style for its long-form storytelling.
For all its familiar trappings, the drug world epic scale of ‘American Gangster’ makes a well-crafted account of the drug trafficking and police corruption in the early 1970s America. Though it suffers a bit from a slightly weak and convoluted first act, it takes surprising twists and turns after it – all the way to its simple and yet well-treated ending. It leverages its curve towards the unique qualities of the story and utilizes its nuances to push the best emotions for the film. Most likely, the cinematic version of Frank Lucas played by Denzel Washington may be quite softer than the real-life Frank, nevertheless, its creative license as a film offer doesn’t really go beyond what the film needs.
As a sprawling saga, ‘American Gangster’ tells an engaging story that can attract a significant audience. It’s an epic about crime and punishment with its bravura scenes having subliminal feel for myth. The film is packed with impeccable period elements and vast energy. It has a superb feel for its time and milieu and it utilizes the good aspects of the classic crime-gangster genre for a compelling film of enormous range and detail.
Ethnically diverse, ‘American Gangster’ successfully demonstrates a drug underworld organized like legitimate corporations – obsessed with competition, fair prices, and quality products – to the point where Lucas even lectures another drug pusher about the significance of ‘brand names’ and ‘trademark infringement’ in the heroin trade.
Amidst the gritty period atmosphere of 1970’s Harlem, the two powerhouse performances from main actors Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe effectively rule the screen. They both burrow deep into their characters without the cartoon crudeness and the put-on violence. Washington as the heroin kingpin Frank Lucas towers a steely grip form of interpretation to his character. He perfects his one acting face of mild displeasure and puts an ultimately valuable stamp onto this elegant man whose callousness alternates with his chivalry. Crowe as the solidly straight cop Det. Richie Roberts also renders first-rate acting while delivering his unbending and unshakable dedication for his job and the wretched personal life he deals with. And the rest of the cast bolsters such wonderfully diverse performances making the story work best for the film, and the film working best for the story.
‘American Gangster’ is a gripping double character study deftly contrasting a drug lord and a folk hero while presenting the American way of life of mobility, consumerism, and success. It presents how a heroin kingpin works with his most subtle and his most violent demeanors as a family member and a businessman, while his opposite in the society’s eyes, an ultimately straight NYPD crime buster dealing with his womanizing issues and his crooked personal life, keeps up with his role as a family man and a public servant. Indeed, this film makes keen observations on the systemic corruption and the personal attitudes of the people in the society. And it depicts the two sides of the so-called American dream.January 27th, 2008 Posted by Rianne | Action, Adaptation and Films with Related Inspirations from Lit, Biopic, Crime/Gangster/punk, Film Noir/Expressionism, Film Review, Films I Like, Heroes/Superheroes, Hollywood Films, Period/Historical, Suspense/Thriller | no comments
Woman. Warrior. Queen.
By: Rianne Hill Soriano
Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
Starring: Jordi Mollà, Aimee King, Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett
‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ is a contemporary allegory presented as a period film filled with rich Elizabethan colors, sumptuous costumes, political intrigues, religious wars, and intertwined personal relationships. And with the unparalleled acting talent of Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I, this sequel to the 1998 critically acclaimed film ’Elizabeth’ becomes a really compelling drama about the life and struggles of a woman, a warrior, and a queen.
The film dances through history, and even though the cinematic license pushes it forward more than its historical accuracy, ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ really gets its strength from Blanchett’s dominating bravura as a top-caliber actress. Her soulful modulation between queenly command and womanly anguish goes beyond the pageantry-fashion parade of Elizabeth’s middle years in her kingdom. Though there are moments when the feathery headdresses, the regal barge rides, the sumptuous banquets, the indoor forests of queenly wigs and elaborate gowns, and the royal gifts seem not so consistent with its medieval look as some look too modern for their times (inclusive of some too contemporary dialogue), the film holds on to something strong the way Elizabeth (through Blanchett) personally has her own source of strength – from the soulful eyes peering from behind the white face paint and headdresses swirling above her like forces of nature, the symbolic colors and fashion statements transform themselves into personal struggles, religious issues, and political statements. Here, the Virgin Queen struggles to hold on to power in a time of great religious divide and personal challenges – showing a portrait of a leader who has to rely as much on herself as anyone else when her kingdom is under the attack of one of the era’s largest empire. And just like Queen Elizabeth, the film is passionate with its visual flair and full-scale star performances.
Impeccably shot and acted, Blanchett once again imbues the Queen with her captivating mix of feminine strength, regal dignity, and intimate vulnerability. Elizabeth’s power and responsibilities deftly shows how a courageous woman leader executes matters of state in a time when men ruled most of the world. Blanchett commands the screen as she commands the royal navy. She vows herself to be in service to her people and accepts the fact that some of her personal interests would be better left unconsummated for the sake of her kingdom.
This Shekhar Kapur film is visually arresting – filling the screen with splashy, brightly saturated hues that give the film an almost fairy tale-like visual sense. From its extravagant costumes to its pompous score, ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ works around two threads: a soap opera love triangle and a study about statecraft and power. Kapur piles on the treachery, romance, intrigue, and betrayal aspects of the story and presents the film with impeccably designed drama exploring the woman behind the queenly make-up, wigs, and outfits – from her strongest to her weakest sides as a great leader and as a human being seeking for personal happiness amidst her larger responsibilities to her kingdom. The orchestral score is fine, although it becomes overwhelming at times.
People may find the film quite anti-Catholic. Perhaps, more than just having a superficial treatment that already crosses the line of the deplorable, it could have benefited the film if it were carefully set with more humanized elements than having too exaggerated moments.
All in all, ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ is still a grand package of dramatic acting, sumptuous design, and meditative moments of living life and struggling for the best of life’s journey.January 7th, 2008 Posted by Rianne | Adaptation and Films with Related Inspirations from Lit, Biopic, European Films, Film Review, Hollywood Films, Melodrama, Period/Historical, War/Spy, Women | no comments
A riveting police procedural, docudrama, and psycho thriller
By: Rianne Hill Soriano
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox
Directed by: David Fincher
‘Zodiac’ is a dialogue-driven psychological thriller that spans almost 3 decades with its almost 3-hour running time. It is an audio-visual essay with vagueness and directness at the same time. Based from the Robert Graysmith book about the real-life serial killer Zodiac, this elegantly shot opus from director David Fincher gives a sense of involvement to the audience in witnessing the string of random murders since the 1960’s and trying to find out who Zodiac really is. The film maintains a methodical rhythm of fear, anxiety, confusion, tension, and obsession. And it does not rely on directly figuring out a twist in the story – it gives way to an emotional pay-off than a physical resolution.
For all the suspense it generates, this film’s smart and witty dialogues and its exhaustive details of psychological combat against a clever madman brilliantly sustain a distinct cinematic creep factor and a violation of the audience’s notion of security and investigation. It is highly impressive being a verbose cinematic offer that works very well with every dialogue uttered by every character. And as a meticulous, intriguing case study as it is, ‘Zodiac’ generally makes the viewer leave the theater feeling inquisitive enough to read the book, or at the least, search about the case in the internet. Whether the viewer is familiar with the source material or entirely clueless about who the Zodiac really is, this film’s moody and atmospheric tone of investigative process is definitely engaging. It effectively keeps the viewer in a constant state of unease with the intense drive to know the truth. And with the many characters and turn of events, the focus Fincher has crafted for the story is nothing less than masterly. Its anticlimactic route resonates nerve-wracking suspense to a true-crime mystery that brings up a number of social and universal issues.
‘Zodiac’ stays true to the real-life scenario and manages to touch on the lives of the many string of characters. Having the allure of interpreting details and acquiring evidences, it has a shaky ground and an unhurried pace for action, suspense, drama, and dark humor. The equally delivering cinematography and production design, cerebrally engaging plot, the existential narrative details, and the relentless momentum of going nowhere promote a certain form of obsession the way the characters find it contagious to desperately solve the mystery behind the psycho. Circumstantial evidences unaccepted by the legal party make the film more emotionally and intellectually unsettling. It has a sensory overload of information that, although inconclusive at most times, manages to maintain a tight and steady, and most importantly, honest pace. Indeed, ‘Zodiac’ is agonizingly intense like any other acclaimed fictional serial-killer shocker.
The film’s treatment is filled with original assets of a great filmmaker. Fincher proves his storytelling expertise in this genre the way his earlier films ‘Se7en’ and ‘Fight Club’ marks an auteur in him as they all reveal facts and details about their stories without being tedious and exploitative. To begin with, the true story of the Zodiac is generally opened to the public; but the film plays fair in sustaining a predictable and yet engrossing picture that keeps the viewers guessing. And in this period film (taking off during the 60’s and ending in the 90’s), Fincher and screenwriter James Vanderbilt turn the decades of hunt for Zodiac into a compulsive riddle filled with painstaking accumulation of clues and justifying empirical data from the turn of events. This becomes a provocative aspect of its own inherent drama and suspense – servicing a mature investigative thriller that holds the audience’s attention consistently for almost three hours.
At every level of production and execution, ‘Zodiac’ is smart and calculated, creative and well-detailed – a factually scrupulous crime drama that revisits the infamous serial killer known as Zodiac. Its dark and gritty atmosphere is reminiscent of the mood and feel of films like ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The Departed’ with its own touch of artistry to it. And to some extent, personally, it reminds me of the many crackling chases and exhaustive mapping of facts and theories of my reading ‘Nancy Drew Files’ and ‘Hardy Boys’ way back my high school days. Moreover, it’s like you are immersed in the situation with the effective plotting of the events, the witty dialogues, and the obsessive kind of police procedural work without the narrative and creative content suffering. Its exhausting length becomes a positive thing as it makes the viewer feel what the characters feel with the situation. The film spends its entirety in creatively substantiating how the actual case files can be transformed into a sincere cinematic opus. The fascinating exploration of crime, obsession, and failure makes a heart-pounding pace without doing any kind of high caliber tricks. And the viewer tends to feel the need to nab the killer the way the geeky artist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) becomes hooked by it. Furthermore, the way the film resists closure becomes its very edge – and it delivers big time. Indeed, Fincher really knows his way in making influential and cult faves in the crime thriller genre.
This film becomes an arena for actors to make up a splendid ensemble yielding to the great screenplay and treatment from writers Vanderbilt (screenplay) and Graysmith (book) and director Fincher. With Fincher’s flair for casting, the all-star lineup of performances effectively delivers strong talents that, without a shadow of a doubt, make the film maintain its first class bearing. They accurately portray a complex, multi-layered story enduring a tireless legwork of detective work. The characters are simplistic and sketchy. Even the unsolved character Zodiac becomes a simple but flashy and colorful villain – full of sturdy personality. Jake Gyllenhaal as the obsessed cartoonist-turned pseudo-detective and pseudo-police investigator Robert Graysmith becomes such a persistent character determined to personally bring a guilty man to justice. Robert Downey Jr. thrives as the cocky newsman Paul Avery, who becomes the film’s main source of comic relief amidst his serious offer to the story. Mark Ruffalo as Inspector David Toschi renders an epitome of a passionately responsible police investigator almost losing the wits and drive to do his job. Indeed, all the characters are carefully crafted to create a classic.
‘Zodiac’ is absurdly entertaining. Undoubtedly, Fincher really makes movies that rattle – marking themselves in cinematic history. This film makes you think and feel immersed in a sprawling, dazzling period piece that manages to make the film seem so real. It eerily captures the mood of a reverent docudrama that holds the audience in its grip from start to finish. Magnificently directed and well-researched, the poignant and realistic tone of this crime thriller proves that filmmakers should not box themselves in making a tidy ending all the time. Just like with this film, the pay-off is actually the whole film. Its architecture works as an interpretation of a notorious crime spree, a detective search, a period piece, and a character study.
As the film’s tagline goes, ‘There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer.’ And so it goes… There’s more to life than this sort of realistic dread. And yet, as how the film shows it, we are struck by every bit of it. Its cerebral flavor really makes the mind think further.June 2nd, 2007 Posted by Rianne | Adaptation and Films with Related Inspirations from Lit, Biopic, Classic, Crime/Gangster/punk, Film Review, Films I Like, Hollywood Films, Suspense/Thriller | no comments
Another Enchanting Potter
By: Rianne Hill Soriano
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Barbara Flynn
Directed by: Chris Noonan
To those who are not familiar with the English children’s book author Beatrix Potter, the initial reaction to having a ‘Miss Potter’ film would be: just-another-movie-riding-with-Harry Potter-fame. But watching this film proves this wrong…
‘Miss Potter’ is a biopic hand painted with the creative license of adding flair, style, and inventive treatment to the story of a very individualistic female artist and writer from turn-of-20th century London. It is not a complex portrait of literary artistry, but it touches on a tender tale about struggling hearts and courageous idealism. Known for her whimsical books, Potter wields magic from her pen to the moving picture seen on the big screen by making a fairy tale story rooted from reality. By showing realistic tones with a workable, pleasant escape to a fantasy world, this film has a light-hearted and magical feel to it without losing grip from its very source. Potter, a woman with a faraway imagination, vividly paints the picture of an inspirational woman who has created lovely bedtime stories for children. Indeed, it is fantasy drawn from realism.
Director Chris Noonan makes the film look refreshingly gentle and a little cheeky, in a lot of charming ways. The movie pulls off a neat animation to show how the solitary Potter comes up with her animal creations – the animal drawings smile, wink, or leap around from the pages. The film offers a brilliant exercise of imagination and an interpretation of the forces that inspired Potter’s phenomenally successful career as a children’s book author. The production design and art direction add up to the enchanting and bunny trail undertones of the story. The photography is equally pretty as Potter’s watercolor art works. The characterization is too fanciful but yields to the film’s dreamy treatment. The film’s gentleness and grace is as charming as Peter Rabbit and Tom Kitten. The love story is beautifully constructed with some caring touch to not take it too far and still focus on the viewers finding themselves moved by Beatrix’s character as she plays with her imagination, discovers her strengths, and accepts the biting realities of life.
The delightful story grows with the audience – sweet and beautiful and captivated by the film’s undemanding narrative. Sentimental as it is, there is no much complexity to overplay the audience’s emotional cords. The tenderness and charm of this picture captures the world with enough sensitivity about a lonely woman’s quest for love and acceptance. It centers more on the emotional side of Potter’s character than merely showing just her career achievements. And apart from a start that is a little too trying hard to be a refined piece on its own (the painting hands opening billboard looks more inhibited than artistic), the rest of the film merely flows rather exquisitely sweet.
Any artist, writer, and woman who visits a world of her own during certain moments (mainly those who get branded as weird or autistic or crazy) shall surely be touched by this film. It pays tribute to a single woman’s quest for independence and individuality and freedom for her creative endeavors – and many women with such a personality can surely relate to the film.
Renée Zellweger makes a sensitive and forceful performance as Beatrix Potter. She does a fine job of fleshing out both the strength and the playfulness of the character. Ewan McGregor as Norman Warne keeps up with both Zellweger’s strength and grace of character. Zellweger and McGregor have believable rapport and good chemistry. The romantic scenes effectively work even with its minimal touchiness.
The rest of the characters are as cartoony as Potter and Warne. From Emily Watson playing the role of Millie Warne, to Barbara Flynn as Beatrix’s mother Helen Potter, to Bill Paterson as Beatrix’s father Rupert Potter, to the rest of the characters of the film, they all work endearingly well to make this film an undeniably refreshing and a very wholesome film for adults.
‘Miss Potter’ is a charming take on Beatrix Potter’s life. It may not be too deep, but it is a curiously endearing and scenic account of her life and times.April 15th, 2007 Posted by Rianne | Adaptation and Films with Related Inspirations from Lit, Biopic, Film Review, Hollywood Films, Melodrama, Period/Historical, Women | no comments
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