For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday I have decided to discuss the character of Penny Lane in Almost Famous and by extension how she relates to the concept of the Rock and Roll Muse and Groupies of the Sixties in general! Now, I do realize that the film is set in the 1970s not the Sixties, but the character of Penny Lane was certainly more than a little inspired by that most iconic of Groupies of the Sixties, Pamela Des Barres.
Penny Lane is a character that is first introduced to the audience via her relationship with Russell, the guitarist of the band Stillwater, which is why she was at the same show that the protagonist William is covering as a young Rock n’ Roll journalist. She is this ethereal and ephemeral force that he comes into contact with. One that truly embodies the energy of the classic Muse, or maybe more accurately of that iconic Faery Lover known as the Leanan Sidhe. Penny is both the inspiration for the band that she follows on the road, as well as being a nurturer of the other Groupies or as she calls them “Band-Aids.”
Penny forms a close bond with William as she ushered him through the life of being on the road with a rock band. Of course, William ends up falling in love with Penny along the way. She is shown as irresistible to the men that become close to her, again showing my comparison between her and the Leanan Sidhe. The Faery Lover is one that is attracted to those that are already talented and her love for them makes them better artists. However, Penny leaving to find her own bliss (like the Leanan Sidhe returning to Faeryland leaving behind her lover) does not end with the men who loved her wasting away of longing. This is because she left them with one another for moral and emotional support! Her whole presence in the film is one of ephemeral wonder and inspiration to the people around her. This further leads me to view her as kind of a humanized version of inspirational Faery women and Muses! I truly feel that she is a character that is not often seen as being as powerful to the narrative as she actually is. To me, she is not simply a manic pixie dream girl there to show William how to become a more well-rounded person. She is a powerful symbol of the magical nature of serving as a Muse to others. She is also someone that makes the choice to remove herself from the toxic situation of being the other woman, after nearly killing herself due to the trauma of her relationship with Russell.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on the character of Penny Lane from Almost Famous. Do my thoughts give you a different viewpoint on her as a character? Do you like or dislike Penny? Let me know your thoughts in the moments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Penny Lane from the beginning of the movie. I found the image on https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/26194/1/what-you-never-knew-about-the-fashion-in-almost-famous.
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- Almost Famous (2000)
- I’m With The Band by Pamela Des Barres