Penelope Wilhern (Christina Ricci) was cursed with a pig-nose when she was born and struggled her entire life to undo the curse. This fresh, fairy tale story puts a spin on what it’s like to be different than everyone else.
The curse was brought on by her wealthy family and as a baby she was labeled a freak. Because of the publicity she received, her parents faked Penelope’s death and kept her locked in their house to hide from the world. Although it was to protect her from ridicule, it seemed that they were ashamed of her.
There was a way to break the curse though. She had to find “one of her own kind” to love her. Throughout the movie, her mother (Catherine O’Hara) attempts to find a wealthy man, “one of her own kind,” to accept Penelope for who she is and to marry her. She believes that only then the curse would be broken.
This isn’t an easy task, considering her facial features. Every man that came into their home was repulsed by the looks of Penelope and she was discouraged more each time that the curse would never end.
She tries so hard to impress each man that walked through the door and they don’t even take the time to look past her physical components. Her mother continues to tell Penelope, “You’re not your nose,” but how can she believe that if that’s all people see when they look at her?
A desperate journalist, starving for the truth of Penelope, hires a man named Max (James McAvoy) to pretend to fall in love with her so that he can publish her picture in the newspaper and show the world the hideous creature he thinks she is.
Max is a gambler and only agrees for the money. He soon begins to like Penelope but then she discovers that he’s not the man she thought he was. She was done searching for a man that would lift the curse; she wanted to start living and learn what was beyond her front door. She didn’t want to hide from the world any longer so she ran away in search for a fresh start.
Along her journey for independence, she discovers a lot about herself and she meets people that convince her that she shouldn’t be ashamed of who she is because that’s what makes her unique.
There are many other twists and turns in the movie but I won’t spoil the rest. I think that many people can relate to Penelope’s hardships and be inspired by her courageous gain of independence.