Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Originally uploaded by Alessandra Ogeda
When I saw Penelope in the theatre I thought that it would be either a pointless chick flick (which I hate) or a guilty pleasure movie; luckily, the film surprised me and turned out to be a thoroughly modern fairy tale.

Penelope follows the plight of Penelope Wilhern who had the misfortune to be born into a family curse; due to the dalliances of a distant relative far back in the aristocratic family line the town witch cursed the Wilhern family so that the next daughter would be born with the face of a pig and would remain that way until she was accepted by “one of her own kind” – another blue blood. Like any responsible parents, the Wilhern’s lock Penelope away from the outside world to help her escape ridicule and as soon as she is of age they begin to work on breaking the curse by finding an eligible blue blood man who will marry her.

Unfortunately, no blue blood can stand the sight of her and all run in terror –but are caught by the butler and made to sign a gag agreement until one day blue blood Edward manages to get away; he then teams up with Lemon a photographer to track down the truth about Penelope and expose her to the public. Along the line they bring in Max, a down and out blue blood to infiltrate the Wilhern’s system and help expose Penelope only something goes terribly wrong with their plan – Max begins to have feelings for Penelope but when she asks him to marry her he refuses. This leads Penelope to run away, discover herself, and continue to break the curse in this thoroughly contemporary fairy tale.

I think my favorite part of Penelope (other than James McAvoy & Christina Ricci) is the production design. I know it sounds little crazy, but there was no part of this movie that was not fully flushed out and created on a visual level, from Resse Witherspoon’s hair and winged vespa to Penelope’s scarf and room every detail was attended to, designed and placed to underscore the special world that Penelope takes place in. The costume designer too needs to be lauded and praised for what they did within the style of this film. All of the elements truly are things of beauty.

I highly recommend this film to anyone that enjoys a fairy tale, young or old. Penelope is a world that should be experienced by a great many people.

Director: Mark Palansky
Writer: Leslie Caveny
Penelope: Christina Ricci
Max: James McAvoy
Jessica Wilhern: Catherine O’Hara
Annie: Reese Witherspoon
Lemon: Peter Drinklage
Frank Wilhern: Richard E. Grant
Edward Vanderman III: Simon Woods

Penelope: Helaborasoreantalis. They're amazing; they bloom even in the winter.
Annie: That's cool.
Penelope: They just pop up without any help from anyone.
Annie: [laughs] Kind of like my ex-boyfriend, if you know what I mean.

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