Don’t you love a good fairy tale? I certainly do. But you can only watch so many versions of Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. Sometimes a fairy tale with a new story and fresh perspective is needed. And that’s just what Penelope offers.
A long time ago, a witched cursed the Wilherns. The first daughter born into this wealthy family would be born with the face of a pig. The only way to break this curse is for her to be accepted by one of her own kind – a blueblood. After many generations of sons, Penelope becomes the unfortunate bearer of this cruel curse.
Ashamed of her daughter, Jessica Wilhern has hidden her away in the family home for most of Penelope’s life. But in recent years, she has been working with a professional matchmaker to find an aristocratic man willing to marry Penelope and break the curse. Edward Vanderman, the most recent man to reject the sweet natured “pig-girl” has teamed up with Lemon, a journalist holding a long-standing grudge towards Jessica. They hire Max Campion, a gambler they believe to be a fallen blue-blood. Max agrees to secretly snap a picture of Penelope for a pay-off thousands of dollars.
But Penelope is gun-shy and doesn’t show herself to Max right away. Instead he is forced to make multiple visits to the Wilhern mansion. With a one-way mirror between them, Max and Penelope develop a friendship through many conversations. However, the individual plans of Jessica Wilhern, Edward, Lemon and Max all go awry when Penelope finally decides to run away from everyone’s plans for her. What will happen to a girl who has lived in seclusion all her life, when she finally discovers the world? Can the curse truly be broken or will Penelope find another way?
To read the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
At this point, everybody and their dog has seen or at least knows the story of Beauty of the Beast. The last thing the internet needs is another review. Despite the few quibbles I had with Disney’s latest version, (the CGI Beast and wolves, just…no and what was up with Belle tucking her dress up to show off her bloomers? Weird) I found it absolutely enchanting. So, I thought I would share eight things I loved about Beauty and the Beast none of which have to do with the title characters or their romance.
- Old Songs -It was such a pleasure to hear the familiar and famous songs of the animated classic. It brought a feeling of nostalgia and connection and it was fun to see the song and dance choreography portrayed in a feature film.
- New Songs -Honestly, I didn’t love two of the three new songs, but I did appreciate what they added to the film. I did love the Beast’s solo Evermore and thought the song itself was romantic and beautiful.
- Gaston & LeFou -These two were one of the highlights of the film for me. Despite the controversy behind LeFou’s character, I loved how Josh Gad played him. He made me giggle. Luke Evans nailed, the arrogance, self-absorption and manipulative anger of Gaston. I really thought his was the strongest performance of the film.
- Phillipe the Horse -Perhaps it was just me, but Phillipe the horse seemed like a character in itself. Somehow that animal displayed personality and some acting skill. I was more worried about Phillipe than Belle when they were attacked by the wolves.
- Unintentional Homage to a Classic Musical -Again, maybe it is just me, but did anyone else think that the scene of Belle finishing her song on the hill outside of town, looked remarkably like the scene of Maria singing The Hills Are Alive in the Sound of Music? It literally looked like Belle was plopped down into the Austrian mountains outside of Salzburg.
- Honored Other Versions -I didn’t realize this while I was watching the film, but after doing some research I found that this new Beauty and the Beast honored past film and stage versions by incorporating parts specific to each version.
- Backstory -I saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway once and was haunted by so many questions afterwards. Thankfully, the film version expanded the story and gave more depth and detail, particularly to the Phantom’s story, answering some of those questions. Beauty and the Beast received similar treatment and I loved having a fuller picture of both Beast’s and Belle’s pasts.
- The Big Reveal -I know at some point in the marketing lead up to the release of this film, I came across the names of the actors who were in Beauty and the Beast. But aside from a few glimpses at the start of the film when I saw Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci, I had no idea who was voicing the inhabitants of the castle. So, when the spell is finally broken, and the characters became human, it was a big reveal for me to see which actors played which part. I had reactions like, I KNEW that voice sounded familiar (Ewan McGregor) and Oh my gosh, he’s so perfect as this character (Ian McKellan), or Wow, I did not expect that (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and finally, Oh, I love her so much! (Emma Thompson) And even though I knew Dan Stevens was the actor behind the Beast, in the opening scene before the curse, he is so covered in makeup as be to almost disguised. So when the Beast was transformed into human form again, it was still the first time we see the real Beast. And can I digress briefly and just say how much I love Stanley Tucci?! He is reminiscent of the character actors of Classic Hollywood and steals scenes in every film he’s in. He’s fearless as an actor and I’m always thrilled when I see him pop up in a film.
Beauty and the Beast is a film that I will want to watch again and again. I really can’t wait to see which animated fairy tale Disney will choose to remake next. I think it would be really interesting to see how they would film The Little Mermaid.
What about you? Which Disney animation tale would you love to see on the big screen?
In the beginning, when the world was created, there was the Spinner, the Teller, the Healer and the Changer. Each endowed with a special ability. However, these gifts came at great cost and eventually became corrupted so that the people became afraid of the gifted, hunting them down, until for their own survival and safety those with the special abilities learned to hide them well.
Little Lark has inherited her own mother’s gift of telling and on the day the king and his son arrive, her mother sacrifices her own life for the sake of Lark’s to hide her secret. But before she dies, she not only prophesies to the king of “the loss of his own soul and his son to the sky”, but commands Lark to “swallow her words” and warns her husband that his own life is tied to Lark’s. Continue reading “Book Review -The Bird and the Sword”