Reviews: Penelope

A clever modern fairy tale with lots of complexity and maturity.

This film is really unique and out-of-the-box, carrying the feel of an indie production by virtue of its hesitance to follow the typical formula.

The basic story is this: Penelope is a child born under a curse, which stipulates that she will have a piglike face until someone of her own kind can accept her. We see that she's been entertaining upper-class suitors for a while now in an attempt to break the curse, but they are all of the entirely wrong mindset to be accepting of her. Penelope eventually meets one good guy, but there are some pitfalls, and then she goes out into the world.

What I like so much about this film is its emotional complexity. We are given several imperfect relationships, and we are often given the chance to feel the tangible strain on them. Penelope's mother is trying desperately to break her curse, but in a way, she's almost perpetuating it by subconsciously treating her daughter's appearance as a problem. Penelope and the first guy she falls in love with have a heartbreaking moment when he suddenly sees her face. It's silent and raw, and the feelings the two are having are agonizing to watch.

I also admire the plot's willingness to meander and in a way, it feels more like a journey. Penelope is actually a pretty smart and strong character despite being shut in a house for most of her life, and she makes some interesting decisions that take the story in unexpected directions. The commentary offered tackles a lot of issues, too: physical discrimination, paparazzi, political correctness, and unhealthy families are all tackled with maturity and don't resort to wholly evil straw viewpoints to be shot down.

Overall, this film is a really interesting watch with some smart writing and a good message. Its fairy-tale ending might seem a bit trite to some, but it's still unconventional. I think it's just a really nice film.
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