Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Miss Fugly

Oh, you guys...

Miss Potter --ouch. It's the life story of Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) whose sweet children's books (like Peter Rabbit) became ginormous best-sellers. The bulk of the movie concerns the first years of her career and her relationship with her editor (played by the reliably delightful Ewan McGregor). If the tinkly music and biopic creakiness doesn't annoy you, though, Renée sure will. We know from the great Babe (1995) that director Chris Noonan can do cute and whimsical without going too coy or precious. To his credit that's a tight rope to walk but yeesh, his leading lady ain't helping him walk it. The supporting cast is fine (McGregor fans may get a kick daydreaming about Moulin Rouge! while watching this for reasons I won't go into) if not particularly challenged, but then there's Renée.


Now I know some of you will immediately rag on me for being a hater. But I should let you in on a little secret: I actually wanted the big Z to redeem herself. I did. I mean, I've long since moved on. Loving to hate her...hating to love her. That's so 2003. I've found a far worthier punching bag since then. But there's no mistaking that she's a mess in this film.

At first I thought she was going for some sort of kabuki Mary Poppins homage. No joke. I did. I was even thinking. 'Um, it's not working Renée but good for you for being a weirdo and having a take on the character' And then I just started getting scared because I realized: she just doesn't know what she's doing anymore. This is an incredibly affected performance. It's as if she forgot that only some of her scenes are performed with animated characters. She definitely forgot that you don't have to do something with your face at every moment when the camera is on you. Sometimes just existing, your face in repose, is all the camera needs. Even our mediocre famous actresses (the Bosworths, the Albas et. al) understand this.

Renée was once a very good and pretty actress (see Nurse Betty and Bridget Jones Diary for proof) but something is wrong with her. I'm absolutely perplexed about her appearance in this movie. I can't recall a leading lady this famous allowed to look this terrible onscreen --her face is all blotchy and her makeup and wig are also unflattering. Add the aesthetic misfortunes to her continual face pulling and you have a film that's hard to look at, Miss Potter's delightful drawings aside.

Miss Potter D+ Renée Zellweger F

UPDATE: in one of the worst decisions the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has ever made... or perhaps in their most perverse prank, they've nominated this atrociously fussy performance for a Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. If the category was named "Worst Actress" than maybe OK, yes...

tags: Renee Zellweger, movies, Ewan McGregor,celebrities, Miss Potter, biopic, cinema, peter rabbit,films

33 comments:

Andy Scott said...

I'm scared. :(

Babloo328 said...

Is it campy? If so, I am so there. Something about a Renee Zzz acting like a Kabuki actress just screams Jessie Spano in Showgirls. That might make the film remotely watchable. Much like the only reason to watch Basic Instinct 2 is to see Sharon Stone dine with the scenery.

Is it true that Notes on a Scandal was thisclose to being a camp classic?

I love camp. They make life worthwhile.

poop-in-my-pants said...

How is Emily Watson? Any outside chance at all for a nomination? She really needs to find the right script to get back on track.

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing my ass off at babloo328's "Sharon Stone dine with the scenery" comment. So, so true.

Meantime, the trailer for this had already done the damage in putting me off, but - jeez - it sounds horrific.

I too have found much to admire about La Z in the pre-2003 days (One True Thing being my fave, where I thought she even managed to outact La Streep), but now? I can't bring myself to look at her.

Especially now we have Ellen Pompeo, who looks the same, but manages to (a) open her eyelids, and (b) ya know, act.

Rob

Ali said...

So sad. I really want Renee to be the great actor she has the potential to be. I think she was brilliant in OTT, Nurse Betty and of course Bridget Jones's Diary (she even had her moments in that musical as well), but lately... I just scratch my head at the badness. How can an actor who knew her stuff become so miscalculated and awkward in all her acting choices all of a sudden? Even watching the Miss Potter trailer was cringe-worthy. It's that same baby voice that bothered me to no end in Cinderella Man. I don't know how I'll make it through the entire film.

Anon in Yorkshire said...

Blast. This looked at one point like quite an interesting project with Ms Z as odd but maybe interesting casting. The Potter stories are very unsentimental(unlike the picture which are supremely fluffy). Sounded like it was just up Chris Noonan's street.

The poster had already put me off - cutsey fingers on lips and coy glances just remind me of a kindergarden teacher who shredded my nerves by asking us all to be very quiet so as not to disturb the elves in the stationary cupboard. It's not good to have that scarring moment revived 30 years later by Ms Z.

Kamikaze Camel said...

eep.

Will the Globes acknowledge it though?

She did look unattractive in the clips from the movie I've seen. Reminded me of all those crime shows that go out of their way to make their female leads look really really hideous using white makeup to make them look washed out next to big bright lipstick and bad over/underdone hair. Like, they can be professionals without looking revolting.

Renee can be a period british dowd without being ugly.

adam k. said...

OK I've said this before, but I'll say it again. My theory:

Renée got addicted to speed (or something) whilst using it to help lose her Bridget wait to get to her Chicago wait. She was a bit off all post-Chicago, but then the speed/crack really got to her around the time of the Cold Mountain shoot. And then after being fed the ginormous ego inflation from the oscar win and the $20 million Bridget 2 paycheck, she just got hopelessly lost in every way. Now she uses her millions to feed her speed/crack addiction and pay for her frequent chemical peels, while pretending to remember how to act.

OK obviously I kid, but in all seriousness I think Z has come down with some kind of substance addiction or else some serious psychological problem or both. She is not herself anymore.

amir_uk said...

Ok, so I know it's deeply unfashionable to like Renee and Hilary on this blog (much as I love it here!), I'm gonna stick my neck out and say: stop being so horrible! Seriously guys (PS. I woke up in a rather sanctimonious mood this morning), what if Renee was reading this blog, surely she'd be a bit hurt by all the hating - as would anyone I'm sure.

I realise I sound like a 5 year-old but come on! I'm actually really looking forward to Miss Potter, Renee. Bring on next week!...

Jess said...

While I'll be seeing it because I see every McGregor movie but from even just a few minutes of the trailer one can see how horrendously affected Zellweger is.

Every time I see a movie of hers from Bridget Jones (the 1st) to earlier I'm surprised by how different she seemed.

jess said...

amir_uk - normally I'd agree with you but part of me feels like if ever anybody needed a wake-up call it's Renee Z! I don't think I hate her or anything but it's impossible to pretend not to notice that at some point she made a drastic change for the worse...

Anonymous said...

I want to know about Watson, too.
So bad she has't got another Bess in her way, and now has to support Zellweger.

- cal roth

NATHANIEL R said...

Watson is good. She manages to do the whimsy without the preciousness. In a better picture, yeah she'd have a shot at Oscar. Who knows she might still if voters love it. But my guess is the weak release won't do the trick now that Oscar campaigns have moved beyond the Weinstein barely release but show every Oscar voter trick.

i mean they have for the most part if you think of it. Think of how many of the contenders were already well into their runs before awards season began... which used to be rare.

Amir, i really am not trying to be mean. I felt actually bad for her. I just don't understand how they let the movie out with her looking like that. Even if she just has bad coloring skin condition or something, couldn't they have done something with hair and makeup.

I know some of you will see this now and think I'm exaggerating about her performance but to me it made her work in Cold Mountain look subtle. So you can imagine...

Anonymous said...

I just want to point out that this is the best review of the year.

Thank you, Nathaniel!

NATHANIEL R said...

i should probably clarify a little about what i mean by that she's doing too much constantly.

there's a scene where Ewan remarks that a 'cloud has gone over your face' --he can tell she's worried about something. But since Renee has made about 6 faces during this very brief moment, I could only pick out "worry" because Ewan vocalized it.

TOO MUCH.

amir_uk said...

Yeah, I know you guys aren't being horrible, really - as I said, I was feeling rather worthy this morning! But I still maintain Renee is one of our most gifted comedic actresses.

I agree you with you, Jess, in that Renee used to look adorable in films from Jerry Maguire through to Bridget 1, and then around Chicago her face turned a little funny. But we have to put it down to bad surgery and that's that. The thing is I was a fan of her unsubtle turns in Chicago & Cold Mountain, and ok, not so much Cinderella Man.

But anyway, I'm rambling and not making much sense (probably cos I'm a little bit pissed!) Just wanted to say I do recognise that Renee has changed a bit facially, but I still like her presence inj films! They make me feel warm inside! I'm looking forward to some hammy Zellweger action...

Brazilianmovies said...

Let's go fug ourselves!

Naomi said...

LMFAO Nat!!! I love you. So much.

I don't think I have ever laughed that hard reading a review.

This is going to be so campy!

RC said...

hey renee drives me crazy...i thought she did great in cold mountain, but i avoid her almost always...

this film...uh, hu...i'm out on it for sure...it seems horrible.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

brad said...

Alright - I have no comment on the film itself but Beatrix Potter was not at all an attractive woman in real life, so if Renee looks a little fug here its appropriate...

Here's a pic of the real Miss Potter:

http://www.heliograph.com/trmgs/trmgs4/beatrix.jpg

Jess said...

I don't think the real Potter is actually all the ugly. She's just plain looking. And she looks natural and fresh compared to how Zellweger looks lately.

Jess said...

Why couldn't Watson have played Potter? *sigh*

Kamikaze Camel said...

The real Beatrix's eyes opened.

I don't hate Renee. She built up too much good will with me to have it all taken away with a few movies and weird face. But it's sad to remember the girl she used to be. The curvy, talented, funny, sexy and unique Renee. Now all she seems to do is squint, purse her lips, look really skinny all the time and talk in that silly whispery voice that on one hand sounds like she's tying for "come hither" and on the other hand sounds like a Michael Jackson impersonation.

Anonymous said...

Watch her get a GG nom.

Kamikaze Camel said...

You jinxed it Anon!

:P

btw, great photoshopping! I forgot to mention that.

Barry said...

You guys rag on Renee TOO MUCH. Holy crap. I am one of the only ones looking forward to this movie. Miss Potter doesn't look bad to me at all. Besides, a lot of bloggers dont like Renee but a lot of actual film critics do. So lets wait and see when it's released.

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appreciative said...

It is actually Renee's choice to look dowdy in this film. People who are more knowledgeable appreciated the details that went in to put this film together.The Edwardian ladies did not wear make up.People can be cruel attacking her very personally