Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: Bharat Nalluri
Running time: 92 minutes
Release date: March 7, 2008
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance and Adaptation
Distributor: Focus Features
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Set in pre-World War II London, England, this period piece is a sophisticated and heartfelt romantic dramedy. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day brings to life Winifred Watson's 1938 novel by the same title to the silver screen.
The story is basically a Cinderella story set in the 1930s, but this tale has two Cinderellas. The film concerns a widowed middle-age dowdy governess Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) who schemes her way into a "social secretary" job of the home of a young glamorous and dithering American nightclub singer/actress Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams of Enchanted) after being dismissed from another position at her employment agency. The "man-eater" Delysia comes to rely on Miss Pettigrew to straighten her love life with Michael (Lee Pace) the piano player, Nick (Mark Strong) the nightclub owner and Phil (Tom Payne) the son of a wealthy financier. But Miss Pettigrew find herself drawn to a suave mature fashion designing mogul named Joe (Ciaran Hinds) who is engaged to another fashion designer named Edythe (Shirley Henderson). The movie also sets Edythe as the bad person who senses that Miss Pettigrew has misrepresented herself and is out to get her. Over a twenty-four hour period, Miss Pettigrew and Delysia find romance and friendship.
Not only does Miss Pettigrew rise to the challenge, but she also undergoes a makeover and finds romance for her own life. This is rather strange for a proper daughter of a clergyman. The premise in this fantasy is irresistible. It is about being in love and needed by loved ones. Setting up a great backdrop to the film is the trappings of the wealthy and glamorous, the world of nightclubs, self-made men, cocaine sniffing playboys and the coming of World War II in 1938 London.
This film embodies hope and expectation, and is a lot of fun to watch. The two lead characters cross each other's paths and enhance each other's lives, despite the fact that they are so different in age and status. As the story developed, I was impressed by the filmmaker's message about living life to the fullest.
This is not an average British period piece film, but a sexy story with a good comedy base between McDormand and Adams. The comedic chemistry is amazing. The fast paced dialogue gave an improvised feel to the film even though it was scripted. Although McDormand is the main lead character of this film, Adams gets more screen time. I can only assume it's because of her unbeatable comic timing and how she inhabits her character. Adams' character Delysia deals with three men on roller coaster relationships (which takes up a lot of screen time), but the plot mainly falls on the Miss Pettigrew character who was portrayed brilliantly by McDormand. The supporting cast members gave magnificent performances that sealed a great hour and a half of movie watching.
FILM RATING (B)