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Modern-day fairytale fun; PENELOPE *** (U, 89 mins) Comedy/Romance. Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Catherine O'Hara, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Dinklage, Richard E. Grant hidden from the outside world by her mother Jessica (O'Hara) and father Franklin (Grant).

IN Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, Jessica famously declares, "Love is blind and lovers cannot see/The pretty follies that themselves commit..." Sadly, love has perfect 20-20 vision in Penelope, a modern-day fairytale about a young woman's futile search for enduring romance in an image-obsessed world where her unsightly facial abnormality brands her a freak.

"For seven years, I've been watching them run," laments the recluse (Ricci) after the latest batch of potential suitors catch sight of her porcine nose - the family curse - and run. Born into the wealthy Wilhern family, Penelope has been

Jessica is haunted by the words of the hag who invoked the curse: "When one of your own kind claims this daughter as their own, till death do they part, will the curse be broken!"

She joins forces with Aunt Wanda (Ancona) to find an upper class bachelor to lead Penelope down the aisle, thereby breaking the spell. Unfortunately, all likely candidates are repulsed by Penelope's appearance. When tabloid reporter Mr Lemon (Dinklage) learns of her whereabouts, he hires Max (McAvoy) to pose as a suitor and capture her grotesque likeness on a hidden camera. Max accepts to clear his gambling debts, but the plan hits a snag when he develops feelings for Penelope.

SWEARING, NO SEX, NO V IOLENCE
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2008
Words:214
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