In the first few seconds of the movie, money is already addressed. Penelope’s parents (Richard E. Grant and Catherine O’Hara) “were born into the good life: old money, blue-blooded society sweethearts”. These people, including Penelope (Christina Ricci), are defined by their money.
The Wilhern parents are given a lot of freedom with their money. They can build a secret room for their (supposedly) “nightmare ugly” daughter. They can fake their daughter’s death, hire a matchmaker, and offer a dowry worth more than anyone can imagine.
However, money did not help Penelope while she was trapped in her parent’s house. Money could not buy children to be her friends. She “made [her] own friends and learned to entrain [herself]”. Also, money could not convince “a high, society, blue-blood” to stay and love her, even with her pig nose.
Money also plays a role in entrapping Max (James McAvoy), aka Jonny. He has a gambling problem so money escapes him through his addiction. However, when Lemon (Peter Dinklage) offers $5000, how can a broke gambler refuse? He has to gamble when “he still has chips”. That is why it is such a big deal later when he gives up his addiction by leaving the chips on the table.
Just before Jonny embraces his freedom, Penelope takes her own. She runs away from home, uses her mother’s credit card to get a hotel, and explores the world outside of her prison. She uses her mother’s money to gain her freedom.
However, this is short lived when her Jessica finds her credit card missing. She goes to the hotel, but Penelope escapes in the nick of time. After this, she must find a way of getting her own money. Therefore, she submits her own picture to Lemon for a $5000 reward.
Money in this movie represents many things. It is freedom and entrapment at the same time. Some characters are able to utilize it to improve their life while it actually ruins other’s lives. Some need it to become free, but others need to lose it for freedom. Money is a dirty and wonderful thing throughout this movie. So which is better: to have it or not? Hmm...
As always, I love the tropes website for movies.
The name Penelope could not have been chosen without thinking of Greek Myths. There is Penelope in The Odyssey. Here is her story.
Thanks for reading! Come back next week for another deadly sin movie!