Movie for a Bohemian Season: Penelope

Penelope sat forlorn in my Netflix queue for awhile.  I don't know why, but I was just never in the mood to see it.  Maybe I had a hard time taking a film featuring a pig-nosed woman seriously.  And I also got the vibe that it was more of a kid's movie, a fairytale fable about loving yourself just the way you are, yada yada, and I was a little bit reluctant.

So it sat in my Netflix queue and I kept noticing that the average rating was 4 stars (quite high on Netflix) and so I finally "forced" myself to watch.

My first impression was "so-so" - it was kind of what I expected and maybe even a little bit weirder and more kiddy.  I kind of wanted to kill her mother and several other characters. But my second impression sunk in a little deeper.

I could read this film as some sort of body-acceptance message or some sort of difference-acceptance message.  Which is perfectly valid and not a bad thing, but it feels like this message has been out in the PC universe - at least the American one - a lot!

But there was something about the film that resonated for me personally - that turned it from a see it and forget it flick into something I thought about for days.

Penelope is fixated on breaking the spell and getting her cute nose back - but for my purposes I'm going to call this "fill in the blank" - because we all have something, some quest, some "if only" we are fixated on that's unique to us. 

Penelope is so busy preparing and trying to reach a future life when "fill in the blank" happens, that she spends no time or energy enjoying her present.  Her life is viewed as not starting until "fill in the blank" happens.  One day she asks herself - what if nothing changed - what if "fill in the blank" never happened - would that be okay? How would I live my life?   When she finally starts living in the present - the present moment, the present circumstance - and stops yearning for "fill in the blank", then she truly begins living.

And for me, this so much applies to my life experience it's not even funny!  I often feel bummed that I spent my late twenties and early thirties waiting for a stork to appear with a baby bundle.  That was my own "fill in the blank"!  Well, dang, it hasn't happened, but like Penelope I am tired of waiting for life to begin and I am learning to accept my present condition.

And for that, I officially deem this a "movie for a bohemian season".

p.s. Other things I love about this movie.  The rich, dark settings, lots of black - not typical and very unique.  James McAvoy's character's loft - so cool, and James McAvoy, well I guess I'll give him the thumbs up too.

p.s.s. Did anyone else watch Penelope and it had a personal resonance? What did it mean to you?  What was your "fill in the blank"?


  1. I thought this movie was very sweet. I have not watched it in a while but I did enjoy it. I also thought her bedroom was very cool.

  2. I really enjoyed this movie, I think everyone who watched it took a little something away. Don't judge yourself so quickly, don't let your parents be overbearing and overall just enjoy your life and what you're given.

    You may have something you don't like about yourself but the more negative attention you bring to it, the more everyone notices it.

    Wonderful post!

  3. I watched Penelope at my daughter's prompting--in fact, we bought it. I agree with what The Urban Wife said (loved Penelope's bedroom!).

  4. yes, her bedroom is the most fantastical and colorful space. did you catch a glimpse of the armoire? it's shown for a very brief moment. absolute perfection.

  5. The movie is wonderful, her room amazing!


  6. I've been living with chronic illness for much of my life, and so this film resonated a lot with me - in regard to feeling shut away from the world, having to battle against yourself and the mental limitations you place on yourself sometimes in a situation like this, dealing with other peoples' judgments and perceptions, and also because my mother reminds me a lot of Catherine O'Hara's character in this film. (Love my mum, but she's had quite a hold on me for much of my life - and isn't always very good at seeing past her own desires for me).

    This really is a great movie. It's so whimsical and imaginative, and every time I see it I feel I walk away with something more. I know it reads a lot like a "kid" movie to most, but I truly believe it's more about the kid in our hearts than it is about our physical age. Lovely film!

    (And the romance is indescribably sweet. I have my very own McAvoyian hero in my life: my best friend of seventeen years, who rescued me from myself when being sick all the time had me at my worst). I'm as healthy as I've ever been at this point in my life right now, and we're getting married next year. :)