Miss Potter, Hanna, The Fisher King – best films on TV tonight

Need an extra midweek boost? Tonight's top film picks are chock full of creativity, action and mystical tales for Wednesday 3 June


Miss Potter – 9pm, BBC4


Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) didn’t just write and illustrate world-famous children’s books; she was a proto-feminist – making a fortune in a man’s world – and an early environmentalist – saving her beloved Lake District from property development. That’s the spin of Babe director Chris Noonan’s heart-warming but overly sentimental costume drama, in which Zellweger gurns a lot through her portrayal of the creative Victorian free spirit. What makes the film work is Ewan McGregor’s effortless charm as the timid publisher who shares her vision of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and becomes her first romance in the bestselling process, and a sparkling Emily Watson as his spinster sister, who eventually befriends Beatrix. Directed in picture-postcard style, with occasional flashes of cartoon animation depicting Potter’s creations and inner emotions, this is a sweet and lightweight treat.

Hanna – 9pm, Film4

Little Red Riding Hood meets The Bourne Identity is probably the easiest way to describe this thrillingly original film from Atonement director Joe Wright, but even that doesn’t really capture its unique, oddly surreal tone. Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16-year-old-girl who has never left her remote Lapland home, where she has spent her life being tutored in the deadly skills of the assassin by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana). When the Agency comes looking for the pair, Hanna finds herself navigating unfamiliar territory, pursued by the ruthless Marissa (a brilliantly icy Cate Blanchett), who’s determined to terminate her and her father. Ronan’s character is utterly fascinating, a kind of holy fool who sees the modern world through innocent eyes, but who could also break your neck with a flick of her wrist. Wright also succeeds in blending the strange, almost fairy-tale atmosphere with some expertly conceived action and unusual, well-sketched supporting characters, with Tom Hollander’s shell-suit wearing, peroxide-coiffed thug a particularly exotic pleasure.

The Fisher King – 9pm, Movie Mix

The Arthurian legend of a maimed warrior healed by the innocence of “a perfect fool” is given a magical update by director Terry Gilliam, tripping the light fantastic in his highly individual manner in this fantasy drama. Gilliam has an eerie knack of wringing visionary heart-tugging power from unsentimental if bizarre material, and Jeff Bridges’s mythical search for redemption in the enchanted kingdom of New York fits the bill exactly. A magnificent perusal of what fires and feeds the soul, with super-tramp Robin Williams keeping his trademark zaniness in check until it really counts. But it’s Oscar winner Mercedes Ruehl’s electrifying portrayal of moral betrayal that you’ll remember long after the fade-out.


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