|Penelope film poster.|
|Penelope's snout got so much unnecessary hate from rich men and even her own mother.|
"And only when one of your own claims this daughter as their own til death do them part will the curse be broken!"
Pretty unfair criteria, right?
Thus, the newest Wilherns take that to mean that once their daughter, the chosen one born with the unfortunate affliction-- pig like features-- must marry someone who would accept her and break the curse.
|Penelope (Christina Ricci) is quite beautiful, but a certain demographic of men don't see it as such.|
Now at age twenty-three, Penelope is right in the middle of finding another. A boring, conceited, spineless Edward Vanderman calls her "Dear Sweet Penelope" as though he's some Lord Byron reincarnate. She comes out, uttering her signature polite "hello." Edward immediately rushes out and screams, beating out sneaker clad Jake, who has for the first time, not caught up to have him sign the gag order.
|Max (James McAvoy) and Penelope (Christina Ricci) have a solid connection.|
Kind, compassionate Max has other ideas in mind for the sheltered heroine.
He befriends the real Penelope, through the invisibility glass of course. He comes by often. In the same camera-strapped suit, he discovers her favorite author, gets his butt killed in chess, and sings "You Are My Sunshine" whilst terribly playing several instruments. It is on his piano playing visit that they physically meet, by hands. He stares at her, observes her with mild affection and quiet yearning. As he lifts a hand to touch her face, the camera snaps and he lets out a curse.
Their romance becomes both infectious and problematic. Max does want Penelope, but cannot due to specific conditions of the curse. His deceit is discovered. He tries to tell her the truth about his origins. Penelope begs him to marry her anyway (which is quite pathetic, they haven't known each other long enough). He says, "no." Yet his "no" doesn't come with screams, fingers pointing at her nose, the urgent need to run, and jump out of the window. He goes only because Penelope tells him to.
Much later, Penelope decides to steal Jessica's purse and runs away, finding freedom, adventure, and friendship with Annie (nice Reese Witherspoon cameo), wrapped in a sleek purple coat and multi-colored scarf. The confident, spirited lady is turning in photographs of herself to Lemon for money, having beers at the Cloverdilly Pub (Max's favorite spot), riding the back of mopeds, visiting museums, and sending her parents post cards.
When her parents find her, independent times are over.
"You're just a talking pig to them," she says tartly.
She encourages (more like forces) Penelope to marry Edward (who still cannot look her in the face) and Penelope reluctantly agrees. On the wedding day, Penelope runs away (for good reason). It is then, Penelope discovers the power to break the curse.
Max and Penelope are together in the end. Thankfully, they don't get hitched (which would have been cheesy). They still need to learn about each other, find out their individual sleeves, especially Penelope.
|Max doesn't know that Penelope has changed......|
|and kisses her anyway.|
Still, there should have been some inclusiveness.
Penelope is a guilty pleasure (for me) because residual feelings of exclusivity kick in. At times, it is extremely discomforting to enjoy glaringly white privilege with the exception of the black British officer serving minor comic relief. Despite Penelope's lonely existence, she is spoiled relentlessly in her prosperous, upper class lifestyle. When she caught Max trying to steal a book from her antiquated library, she informs him that three hundred and twenty five books are worth big money. She also has the Disney body shape, gloriously long brown hair, beautiful tailored clothing, and wide eyed naivety that can sometimes be irritating or downright corny (i.e. she encounters joggers and runs from them, petrified). She isn't even asked for ID when she checks into a hotel with Jessica's card or when she has beer. In this fictional place, contemporary imperialism stays present, leaving all else as invisible as Penelope's unique mirror.
In the end, Penelope is a flawed fantasy bubble. We are just looking in it.