James McAvoy has been a gardener, a heart-broken soldier, a doctor, a lawyer, a student and now in his latest movie Penelope, he’s become a gambling, conflicted boyfriend of a pig. Simply put, I know, but being a fan I feel this role of Max has to be one of McAvoy’s most understated and bravest roles in his whole career. He gives yet another emotional performance as he moves away from award winning Atonement, to an original fairytale that is ten times better than Ella Enchanted with double the laughs to boot.
Penelope is a modern romantic fairytale, telling the life and problems of a young girl throughout her life as she struggles to deal being cursed with the face of a pig. She learns that the world is cruel to people who are different and that it is more important for people to love who you are on the inside, rather than on the outside.
Naff storyline aside, the film’s unique charm and incredible cast pull you through the movie and leave you smiling till the credits. Reese Witherspoon’s urge to play a contrasting character to her previous roles as naive Elle Woods (Legally Blonde ) and June Carter (Walk The Line) shows just a what versatile actress she is by playing the rebellious friend of Penelope’s. Not so newcomer Christina Ricci presents the lead role of Penelope much better than many actresses could do, as she shows the character’s lust for life, sheer determination to be free and overall sweetness throughout the movie, giving this basic idea much needed sparkle and life.
Although the movie has an unsteady storyline and may very well fail to win over some (there is some terrible over-acting from several less important characters at the start, when they ridiculously dive out of glass windows), the many romance fans out there will find no fault in this dramatic, yet slightly predictable movie. These folks will surely applaud the end, where there is a most definite “swoon-moment” with McAvoy, right
in the middle of his comfort zone, where he belongs, slotting well into this unusual choice of film for him.
Penelope is a slow burner but a movie not to be dismissed.