Thursday, July 17, 2008

Penelope (2008) Film Review

Plot Summary - Romantic fairy-tale all about the life and adventures of Penelope the pig-faced girl. Okay, that caught your attention - see, poor Penelope (Christina Ricci) would be pretty except for the fact that a family curse was placed on her great-great-great grandfather that made the next female born into the family destined to be born with a pig snout - and that just happened to be her. So - her blue-blood society parents, hounded by the press, fake Penelope's death when she is just a baby and then keep her house-bound, pretty much locked behind the gates of their big estate where she learns to entertain herself in her large playroom. Believing that the curse can be broken if Penelope marries one of their own kind, a true blue-blood, mama hires a matchmaker to find a suitable match for Penelope - but every male that comes around screams and jumps out the window when they see her face (gosh, it's really not *that* bad!). When one of these potential suitors joins forces with a dwarf reporter from a local tabloid who wants to get a photograph of Penelope, they recruit Max - a handsome, shaggy-haired, down-and-out blue-blood addicted to all-night gambling sessions at rundown poker halls. Max befriends Penelope as they talk on opposite sides of a one-way mirror in her house - but when he does see her face, even he refuses to marry her. So - Penelope runs away, wraps her lower face in a scarf, and learns what life is really like outside the walls of her house as she explores the winter-time city and makes some new friends at a local pub. After she sells her own photo to the reporter for some needed ready cash, she immediately becomes a media sensation.

Review - This is quite an entertaining film which I thought got a lot better once Penelope was out on the streets making her own way, the film becoming more a real-life tale than simply a fairy tale. Okay, lucky it was winter when she makes her escape because it does seem slightly implausible that she doesn't get all *that* much notice walking on the streets with half her face covered by that scarf which she never removes, even to drink a beer. Also, I didn't think she really looked so ugly that these males would run away in terror like they did. Okay, James McAvoy who plays Max is, well, just adorable - one of my favorite heartthrobs these days (though I sure did miss his Scottish accent in this - I wonder why they made him put on an American one when there are so many British actors who kept their own accent in this film). Still, the film has an interesting, original story that gives a nice statement on accepting even the ugliest of people for who they are inside. Pretty good. Rating - 7/10 stars

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