Have you ever watched the movie, Penelope? If you haven’t, you are in for a treat! It’s a modern-day love story about Penelope Wilhern(Christina Ricci), a young heiress cursed with the snout of a pig from birth. The only way to break the curse was if one of her ”own kind” claimed her as their own. Pretty good plot huh?
So, why am I writing about this movie? It’s central theme “It’s not the power of the curse, it’s the power you give the curse” speaks volumes to the human condition. More often than not, we give more power to other people or circumstances than we do to ourselves. You can call it crazy or human nature. It’s the truth. The social construct of success and beauty influence our behavior towards one another and ourselves. So much so, that we unknowingly measure our worth against media’s depiction beauty and success. This movie reminds us that who we are inside matters most.
Penelope’s mother annoyed me the most in this movie. Whenever she spoke, I’d hear the opening lyrics of the song; You’re So Vain. 🎶 “You’re So Vain!”🎶 All she thought about was how to break the curse. She barely looked at her daughter because of her obsession with status and beauty. Unfortunate for Penelope, her mother unconsciously influenced her to believe that she was a monster. But her mother wasn’t the only influencers in this scenario; her male suitors reinforced the idea when they’d run away screaming hysterically and jumping out of the upstairs window.
This fiasco went on for seven years until Penelope got tired of being rejected. She demanded that her mother bring the remaining suitors at one time. After Penelope revealed her face to the room full of blue-blooded, male suitors, one man (Max; James McAvoy) stayed in the room. What she didn’t know was that he didn’t see her face. For the next few days, Penelope got to know Max behind the comfort of a two-way mirror. When she finally revealed herself to him, he was shocked, but did not run away. This opened Penelope’s eyes to the possibility that she was not as grotesque as her mother made her out to be. In a state of desperation, Penelope asked Max to marry her to break the curse, but he declined.
This rejection forced Penelope into a different state of mind. Some may argue that it was the inciting incident that motivated Penelope to take control of her life. Now, with no hope of getting married, Penelope decided to go out into the world and experience life under a scarf. All the while, one of her past suitors got away before signing a gag order and told the tabloids that a pig-faced monster lived in the Wilbern home. To prove his sanity, he worked with a tabloid journalist (Peter Dinklage) to get a picture of Penelope. When that didn’t work, they got a sketch artist to draw how she looked, complete with fangs and wrinkly skin.
After seeing the monstrous sketch, Penelope decided to take a picture of herself and sell it to the tabloids. When the public realized that she was not as hideous as she was made out to be, they embraced her.
The public’s surprising response to Penelope’s snout brings me back to the movie’s central theme.: “it’s not the power of the curse, it’s the power you give the curse.” All too often we allow negative self-talk to influence our perception of the way we will be or are perceived by the world.
What or Who are you Giving Your Power To?
As demonstrated in this movie, embracing the truth about ourselves gives us the greatest power over any circumstances that may stand in our way. Penelope took charge of the situation by revealing her true self to the world. You can do this too.
Q: In what ways have you channeled your inner Penelope? Share your comments below.