And welcome to our first Movie Magic Monday. I’m your host, Isabelle. *throws confetti, plays theme music* Get comfortable, have a seat, and pass the popcorn. 😉
My first choice of movie to be featured on MMM (as it will now be affectionately called) is the 2008 romantic comedy, Penelope. It stars Christina Ricci as the title character Penelope, and features Catherine O’Hara, Reese Witherspoon in a small but significant role, and James McAvoy (go ahead, swoon, I’ll wait a second).
Now I’ll be honest, I had little to no expectations for this movie. I watched it only because I’m a big fan of Christina Ricci and okay, I’ll admit, I was still in love with McAvoy from Becoming Jane.
But the trailer bordered on cheesy- with that feel good music blaring and the whole learn to love yourself undercurrent. Don’t get me wrong, I love an inspiring story as much as the next person, but I don’t like being manipulated into feeling something. Some movies are good about that. The right music, the right lighting, the right puppy dog eyes, meant to make the viewer bawl. It all feels staged to me.
See what I mean? The story, about a family curse and finding true love and accepting yourself as you are, well it all felt a little contrived and overdone.
But, as is the case with any truly magical story, within the first five minutes of the movie, I’d forgotten all those hangups and started to really enjoy myself.
What I loved about this movie is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is: a modern day fairytale. It opens with Penelope’s narration, helping us understand the family curse that resulted in her appereance at birth. It’s all done in a very tongue in cheek fashion, a bit over the top and surreal, just the right tone for a fairytale comedy.
Sheltered by her mother and hidden from the world, Penelope is forced to ‘court’ a series of blue blood suitors through a two way mirror. They’re all signing confidentiality agreements – and they’re all running away the moment Penelope steps out from behind the glass.
Yahoo Movies does a good job describing the rest of the plot:
Lemon, a mischievous and eager tabloid reporter wants a photograph of the mysterious Penelope and hires Max to pose as a prospective suitor to get the shot. The handsome down-on-his luck gambler finds he’s falling for Penelope, but not wanting to disappoint her or to expose his surreptitious ways, he decides to disappear. Fed up by his latest betrayal and determined to live life on her own terms, Penelope breaks free from her family and ventures into the world alone. She finds adventure and Annie, her first friend and becomes the person she was meant to be.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. James McAvoy added real depth to what could have been a cardboard character. His gambler turned false suitor was charming, intelligent and irresistable. He has the ability to say so much through his eyes. There were times when I felt my chest constrict just because of the expression on his face.
His attempts to woo Penelope while behind the glass are my favorites. And the scene where she first reveals herself to him… well, it’s amazingly done and truly gutwrenching.
The set was also spectacular. Penelope’s room (pictured above) is every girl’s fantasy. The colors are vibrant and fun. Personally, I loved her purple coat and scarf. 😀
If you’re a fan of old fashioned fairytales such as Rapunzel or Beauty and the Beast, this movie has the feel of both of those mixed together with a modern spin, twisted in a fun, new way.
My Rating: (a surprising) A