I’m not about to spoil this movie for you. The tagline for this movie is “What Makes Us Different Makes Us Beautiful”. It’s about Christina Ricci born with a snout instead of a nose. By the end of the movie, she has a normal nose. I really think that’s all I need to say but bear with me ‘cos I feel a rant coming on. Now, maybe with The Hottie and the Nottie going around those cinemas that can afford to show it, my nitpicks over movies like this and Enchanted having fairly depressing implications about society seem beyond nitpicky. But hey, if nobody else is gonna say it then I will; if I didn’t just say what came to mind while watching a movie then I wouldn’t write anything at all.
“I know this face repulses you,” Penelope (Christina Ricci) tells Max (James McAvoy complete with pointless US accent) “… And I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t dream of asking you to accept it. But this isn’t me, the real me is inside here somewhere just waiting to get out and you can make that happen and once the curse is broken I’ll be just like anybody else.”
“What if the curse doesn’t get broken? What if the curse can never be broken?” Max replies.
“Then I’ll kill myself. I promise, I promise I will. Marry me, Max. Marry me.”
And there’s the rub. If you happened to like Enchanted, honestly, I couldn’t recommend a better double bill companion than Penelope more whole-heartedly. Personally, my luck amazes me that I resisted seeing both on my birthday in February because either one of them would, to be blunt, have put a damper on my day. Though this movie didn’t upset me quite as much as Enchanted did – duh, it’s Christina Ricci with a snout, frankly that alone is worth my 90 minutes – I spent all those 90 minutes, as I did in Enchanted, dreading how it all would end, hoping the film makers would explain why every man who looked upon The Nose had to jump through glass or cause a scene, why not one of them would even hesitate a moment and consider the rest of her. Is she supposed to look as grotesque as what these guys seem to be reacting to? In which case it’s bad casting and makeup, and I hope that’s the case. Otherwise, it really upsets me that apparently little girls across the land have gone cuckoo for this movie that is telling them this is what they should expect if they don’t look like Reese Witherspoon.
I’m sure I’m not just being my strange and kinky self … seriously, Christina Ricci with a snout is almost even cuter than just plain Christina Ricci. I know it’s a story and the movie would end pretty quick if someone just walked in the room and said, “Hey! Cute nose!” … what I’m saying isn’t as simple as that at all and you maybe need to see the whole movie to get the full sweep of how badly I feel it’s handled, I don’t know … it just basically sat badly with me. Maybe it’s as dumb as I’ve a feeling my response to everyone so rapidly believing Briony in Atonement was … but when something doesn’t sit with me, it doesn’t sit with me: all I can do is share the response.
I don’t have as many problems with it as I do with Enchanted – that movie had its wonderful moments and this one has even more on top of the simple fact of the Ricciness who can really do little wrong in my book. Joby Talbot’s music is gorgeous, one of those scores that, if I still bought soundtrack CDs, I’d snap up in a flash. Peter Dinklage is always worth the watch – he has one of the more interesting lines in the movie, perhaps moreso coming from him, when he says, “She’s out there on her own. Declaring her independence.” It even makes me happy enough that Christina Ricci even chose to do a project like this, it’s the kind of thing that made me go psychocrazy over her all those years ago. It’s quirky, it’s silly, it’s particularly indie-spirited even while being particularly appealing to the mainstream by its sheer freakshow nature.
But I’m loathe to sound too enthusiastic about the whole thing, because the overall message of it really makes my tummy squirm – from Grease to She’s All That I’ve always been sick of movies that basically tell people, especially girls and women, “Hey! You don’t have to be beautiful on the outside! But it helps …” and again, even though it comes from character and is a perfectly logical part of the movie, I have to say, the moment at the end here where Catherine O’Hara (being even more loathsome than she was in For Your Consideration) starts suggesting even more “work” on Penelope’s nose even when it’s back to human form, it actually almost made me feel physically sick. Given I’ll take any opportunity to tell people my own insane dreams of magical transformation, I know how this sentiment probably makes me a big hypocrit. I don’t know what to say to that. Maybe we’re all a little hypocritical sometimes, but with me these days honesty overrides everything, and like I said, this just did not sit with me.
As I’ve said on many an occasion: any movie that can get me in such a twist as this has gotta be worth the time somehow … it just depresses me if this is what it takes nowadays. It depresses me almost profoundly. Gimme Elphaba proudly getting in people’s faces with her green skin any day over this kind of thing. She had the good sense to leave the world entirely when it turned its back on her. Nobody should have to change to fit in. That Penelope’s transformation here comes right after and as a result of her own admission that she’s “happy the way she is” just adds insult to injury in my opinion.