Saw this on DVD last week and was pleasantly surprised. All I knew about the movie was that it was about a young woman with a pig’s face. I vaguely recalled seeing interviews (around the time it was released at the cinema) wherein Reese Witherspoon talked about its message as one of self-acceptance.

So, I sat down to watch it. The first thing I liked was there were no previews or adverts, the DVD going straight to the main menu. I selected play and an old-fashioned fairy tale started. Christina Ricci starts in voice over mode about her ancestors and the curse they brought upon themselves and their descendants, wherein the first born girl to the family would have the face of a pig, and only the love of one of her own kind would set her free.

And, so we go along several generations of boys, until we reach Penelope. In her attempts to marry off Penelope, the mother (Catherine O’Hara) enlists the help of a matchmaker (Ronni Ancona) to find blue bloods to help lift the curse. Penelope stays behind a window and interviews them, showing herself at the last only to have the chaps run away screaming, wherein the Butler chases after them and gags them.

That is, until Edward escapes …

The movie is very sweet, without being sickly. The costumes are amazing as are the sets, although everything is rather eclectic, including the accents with a mix of American and British casting and scenery. I have to give kudos to the prosthetics department, who disfigured Penelope so beautifully – she really is cute (in its original definition of ugly but attractive).

Overall, Penelope has a sumptuous feel and, despite the curse, the witch is not altogether berated for her actions, in fact, the witch comes off pretty justified in the end. So, not exactly bad PR for wtiches, which goes against the usual fairytale stories.

The technical aspects are rather good: cinemaphotography is beautiful, set and constume design luxurious, the lighting is soft complementing the harshnes of the storyline. The only exceptions were some very minor continuity issues, the odd accent slip and some sloppy voicing pick-ups in post-production.

Its an enjoyable movie and I have already watched it twice and its hard to find fault.

Rating: 5/5.

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