Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story (2011)
Airing on television the same weekend that the last Harry Potter installment debuted in theaters, Magic Beyond Words’ opening title is closely followed by the disclaimer that what follows is an unauthorised biography. Despite this, the film is hardly a ‘Hogwarts and all’ portrayal of J. K. Rowling’s life leading up to the publication of her first novel. Instead, it’s a rather pleasant diversion buoyed by an engaging lead performance by Poppy Montgomery.
After a brief depiction of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie premier, the biopic flashes back to a young Joanne Rowling dressed as a witch, enthralling her playmates with stories of what lies deep within the forest. Soon attending her first day at school (replete with Hogwart’s-like blazers), Joanne is placed at the back of the class due to poor grades. Flash forward to the teen who is now excelling at her studies, though her lack of focus still draws the ire of her teachers. Encouraged by her ill mother to follow her dreams, Joanne accepts a teaching job in Portugal as a means to support her writing. A whirlwind romance is succeeded by an abusive marriage, and soon the budding author finds herself a single parent on welfare.
It's a slight story and, with a running time of under 90 minutes, one that literally whizzes by. As expected, the film repeatedly references Rowling’s desire to write, yet the dominant theme throughout the film is the strength of a mother’s love. Regrettably, though the visual references to Harry Potter work well, the John Williams-lite soundtrack is intrusive and many of the spoken cues fall flat.
None more so than Joanne referring to her red-haired schoolfriend as such a Weasley guy. OBLIVIATE!
as J. K. Rowling
When asked via twitter how accurate this unauthorised biopic was, J. K. Rowling replied “I've never seen it, so I can't tell you how accurate it is. The thought of watching it makes me curl up like a pretzel”. The author later added “But I was there when my life happened. Why would I want to watch somebody else's vague idea of what happened?”
Biopic takes place before the movie premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. As such, there are no scene recreations.