‘Damsel’ Should Be Called ‘Marry Me Penelope’

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Julia Wilson

Of all of the dramas and dark comedies I have seen this year, Damsel may be the most confusing.

The reason why is because it has, what it seems to be, two different plots.

Good Time actor Robert Pattinson portrays a young man named Samuel who picks up a drunk preacher, Parson (director David Zellner), on his way to rescuing his “kidnapped” fiancée, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska), so that he can marry her on the spot. Upon finding her and killing her captor, Parson quickly finds out that Penelope was never kidnapped but married to the supposed captor, Anton, in their small cabin in the woods.

But that is just the first half of the movie. The other half is just Penelope and Parson traveling out of the wilderness and stumbling upon native Zacharia (Joseph Billingiere) and Anton’s brother, Rufus (director Nathan Zellner).

Now, here’s why I titled this “Marry Me Penelope”: every male that Penelope comes in contact with will eventually propose to her. She’s already married to Anton, Samuel’s entire objective is to marry her, Rufus demands to marriage after the death of his brother, and Parson randomly proposes to her in the middle of the desert.

After the film, I wondered if the multiple proposals to Penelope was the actual plot. Then I found the written synopsis given to us by the film and it states, “the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel”. And I guess I understand that, too.

It mocks the old western genre where women were the ‘damsels in distress’ and the men were either heroes or villains. People are always trying to save Penelope but, in the end, she was the one saving herself (i.e. strapping dynamite to Parson’s chest and taking all of his belongings when he proposes).

Aside from its wishy-washy plot, Damsel was quite hilarious as it seems more like a western comedy than a complete parody of the western genre that films like A Million Ways to Die in the West have done. It was confusing throughout but, nonetheless, an entertaining watch.


My Rating: 73%

Acting: 3/4

Cinematography: 3/4

Story: 2.8/4

Enjoyability: 3/4

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