Miss Potter DVD Review
PictureThis standard DVD has an anamorphic 2.35:1 image that, harking from a very recent and pristine print, is blemish-less and clean throughout. Colours are very good, though they have definitely been touched-up during post-production. Skin-tones seem a little faded, unless we're talking about old Crimson Cheeks, herself, Renee Zellwegger, who just looks like she's been on the cider all afternoon, but clothing, locations and furnishings all look quite natural. The lush greens of the Lake District are quite glorious, though I did catch a couple of instances when they seemed to blur during some distance shots of the rolling hills.
Black levels are strong and supply the image with a stable and atmospheric foundation, especially during the plentiful interior scenes. Contrast elsewhere seemed to edge a little too high for me personally, but the image is relatively soft anyway, so this effect just appears to amplify the cute, fuzzy aspect that the film seems to strive for. Detail can be quite good, with the finite edges of Potter's little drawings nice and crisp, and the many objects that festoon the sitting rooms, parlours, printing presses, offices and conservatories all clamouring for attention. Landscapes, however, may look captivating at first glance but lose a lot of definition on closer inspection. Transfer-wise, I noticed no compression defects - pixellation, motion-drag or noise - and edge-enhancement, whilst still there, did not bother me at all.
SoundMiss Potter does not tax the speakers much - there is virtually nothing for the surrounds or the sub to do that is worthy of mention - but the DD 5.1 track still keeps the film bubbling along quite nicely without any tricks or showy stuff. Dialogue is always clear and precise and never swamped by the score from Nigel Westlake. There is some small degree of steerage across the front - voices around a dinner table, a steam engine chugging along - but we are in the land of front and centre activity which, at the very least, means that those grannies who used to read Beatrix Potter tales to you as a babe will feel very comfortable with all those intimidating speakers standing there reticent and idle.
ExtrasNot much here, Potter-fans. All you get besides the video for Katie Melua's When You Taught Me How to Dance is a boundlessly enthusiastic and, yep, thoroughly twee Making Of Miss Potter. However, at 34 mins, this documentary is surprisingly comprehensive and allows all the main players to discuss their participation in the film, and some of them even do it in costume. Naturally, though, they are enthusiastic and prone to playing up the style of Noonan's film and its rather fanciful departures from reality. They were after a certain mood, which is fair enough, I suppose. But, for me, the flighty mood achieved is one that ruins what could have been an interesting tale of idealism and imagination fleeing the rigid grip of traditions and enforced morals. Because the Making Of defends this particularly trivialising mood and style, I'm afraid I was pretty much put off it ... rendering most of this disc ghastly and unwatchable.
This check disc also had trailers of the cool Arthur And The Invisibles, the excellent-looking Bobby and sexy-looking The Painted Veil - well, I say sexy purely because it has got Naomi Watts in it. And that's your lot. Oh, wait a minute, there's also an ad for Maltesers! What the hell ...?
VerdictIt may have been an interesting prospect, but the story for Miss Potter lacks anything substantial to provide it with an emotional anchor. Ably-acted by most of those concerned, there is still no getting away from the sickly sweet twee-ness of Miss Potter. Thus, the end result is possibly entrancing for some, but unmistakeably off-putting for others. For me, personally, the film veered too sharply towards the tooth-decaying end of the spectrum and I sincerely doubt that I would ever watch it again. Zellweger's performance crosses the line and becomes squirm-inducingly uncomfortable much too often for my liking and the severe lack of chemistry between her and McGregor is a terribly unfortunate error from which the film cannot recover.
The disc is fair, AV-wise, but the extras - and for once, I was quite content that there wasn't many - are too flowery and sweet, just like the film. Sorry, folks, this just wasn't for me, so I cannot recommend it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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