Lessons from Penelope

Bringing back my series on Lessons from Movies. I love to study movies to improve my own storytelling. It's not that I don't learn from the written word, but as a visual learner I pick things up faster and easier if I see it.

Penelope is a sweet, sleeper of a movie. I vaguely recall it being released in the theater, but somehow missed it. I picked it up as a new release at the video store and was charmed from the opening sequence. The movie is a modern fairy tale and has a distinct magical feel to it. On to the lessons, beware, major spoiler as I am going to discuss the climax.

1) I love, absolutely, love that it is Penelope who breaks her curse and that her "prince" is unable to. In fact, none of the men who her mother shoves at her would be able to break the curse, because they can't look past her face to the person she is. It is only when Penelope accepts and loves herself for who she is - pig snout and all - that the curse is broken.

2) The second part of the climax is when Penelope goes to claim her love. Love the twist there as well. You go girl. The scene is played beautifully between Christina Ricci and James McAvoy. But my favorite part is the few seconds between the two kisses. Penelope pulls off her "Penelope" Halloween mask and Johnny/Max is slightly put off that she doesn't have the pig snout any longer. That split second of his reaction shows Penelope that though he might not have been able to break the curse, he did love her for who she was, pig snout and all.

For the first lesson, I actually considered this a lot for Mafia Secret. On the one hand, I wanted my heroine to stand up on her own and defeat the villain, but on the other my hero had to ride into the rescue. I wrote the scene both ways and chose....Well, you'll have to read it to find out. ;-)

I haven't had a story yet which includes the elements from lesson two, but I look forward to using it when I can.


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