2006's "Penelope" is a criminally underrated film. The film stars Christina Ricci as our main character, Penelope Wilhern, the cursed daughter of the blue-blooded Wilhern family. Now, what makes this film different from most films featuring a princess-like character and a curse? Well, one huge difference is the main theme running throughout this film, the theme of self-love and acceptance. Before I get ahead of myself, here is a summary of the film written by a lovely user on imdb because if I try to explain it...I'm just bad at explaining things:
Many years ago, the Wilhern family's maid got pregnant from the son of her master, but he is not allowed to marry her because she would not be "one of their kind". The woman commits suicide and her witch mother curses the daughters of the family that would have the face of a pig until one of them finds true love with one who will love her faithfully. Penelope Wilhern is the first legitimate girl after generations and born with the nose of a pig. Her mother Jessica hides her from the world in the Wilhern mansion, and Penelope is raised alone, with no friends. When she becomes a young woman, her parents try to find a wealthy bachelor to marry her and break the curse. Meanwhile the tabloid reporter Lemon and the aristocrat Edward Humphrey Vanderman III that have issues against the Wilhern family hire the gambler Max to meet Penelope and take a picture of her. But their scheme does not work as planned.As I said before, our Penelope is played wonderfully by Christina Ricci, "Max" is played by the deviously charming James McAvoy, Penelope's parents are played by Catherine O'Hara and Richard E. Grant, Lemon is played by the ever perfect Peter Dinklage, and Edward is played by the skeevy Simon Woods. I was never a HUGE fan of Christina Ricci, excluding her turn as Wednesday Addams, she wasn't a huge blip on my radar, at least not until she starred in the short-lived television show "Pan-Am" (which was perfect!). But anyway, she was just darling as Penelope. She was heartfelt and sweet and had a wonderful sort of innocence to her that really worked with the sheltered Penelope. Her and McAvoy were a dream together too. McAvoy was all charm and smiles and goodness, not only did he steal away Penelope's heart, but I'm pretty damn sure he stole the hearts of every women who has seen this film.
The film's cinematic style and storytelling reminds me a great deal of another short-lived and perfect show, Bryan Fuller's "Pushing Daisies" (which everyone should watch because it is beautiful) as well as another favourite, "Amelie". It seemed to exist in the same universe as PD which I am completely okay with. The colours and wardrobe in this film work to compliment one another so well. Each character has a distinctive silhouette and style, for example, Penelope, who is seen the majority of the film in an outfit that looks as if it was plucked from an Anthropologie clothes rack or from Modcloth. Especially those olive green heels *swoon*. But seriously, a lot of Penelope's wardrobe, including young Penelope, is perfection. I want all of them. Especially her wedding gown pictured way below. It's so pretty and feathery.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, the film has a running theme of self-love and acceptance. Throughout the film, it's touched on whenever Penelope looks at her reflection and her mother swoops in to remind her that she is not her face and that her face is not hers. The curse of the pig nose and pointed pig ears can only be removed when Penelope is accepted/loved by one of her own. Of course, herself and her family take this to mean being loved/wedded by a fellow blue blood. What does that have to do with self-love and acceptance? Well, you'll just need to see the movie to find out. It's currently streaming on Netflix Instant so check it out while you can.