Monday, February 04, 2008


PENELOPE (dir. Mark Palansky, US, 2006, 102 mins.) The film stars Christina Ricci, Catherine O'Hara, Peter Dinklage and Reese Witherspoon. 'Nuff said? No? Well, Ricci plays a girl born with the face of a pig as part of a family curse and must find love to reverse it. Catherine O'Hara plays her H Y S T E R I C A L mother! You need more? Well, ok. Dinklage plays O'Hara's arch-nemesis as a tabloid reporter who has stalked the girl from birth. Do you need MORE?! FINE.

Witherspoon produced this and appears nearly unrecognizable as a Vespa striding courier, who befriends our pig faced heroine. Oh, and the love interest is James McAvoy, who I find likable enough, but have yet to develop any kind of strong feelings for towards his technique or personage. But with Ricci, O'Hara, Dinklage and Witherspoon performaning actor's studio backflips around the set, he as well as Richard E. Grant (as her father) should just step back and out of the way. There are other notable performances filling out the ensemble: Ronni Ancona, Lenny Henry and Burn Gorman were all little standouts.

Leslie Caveny's script can be a bit bumpy here and there, but the cast is like a 4-Wheel drive vehicle and they slam through it as the farcical pros they are. The script actually has some self awareness during its epilogue that was refreshing and only added to my enjoyment. The production design by Amanda McArthur sets the tone of the fable that the script sometimes falls short of establishing (with the exception of the nose, of course). The music and sound design were fabulous. The pacing was nearly breathless at points, and I only wish that director Palansky would have allowed O'Hara and Denklage more screentime TOGETHER!

The film releases during the last week of February, and could quite possibly be one of my Spring faves, in the likes of STRICTLY BALLROOM so many years ago...

No comments: