Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day


Reviewed by: Chris

Shooting to stardom in the award-winning Enchanted, Amy Adams proved that fairytales for adults can work. In Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, she similarly plays a ‘princess’ type character. It’s 1939 and Amy is high-flying American actress and singer Delysia Lafosse. Delysia has two too many men in her life. Pursued by devoted pianist Michael, intimidating nightclub owner Nick, and young impresario Phil. She is all in a whirl and needs someone to sort out her over-full life.

Enter Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand). She’s a lowly middle-aged governess who’s just been unfairly dismissed. Showing remarkable initiative, Guinevere bluffs her way into a job as Delysia’s social secretary. It is a matter of urgency! Delysia has a man in her bed who really must leave quickly before another suitor is due to arrive. The quick-witted and very articulate Guinevere has the situation in hand in no time, earning her an esteemed place in Delysia’s heart (whose “crisis is ongoing”). So much so that Delysia even considers lending her to a friend to apply those miraculous troubleshooting skills more widely.

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Delysia swaps Guinevere’s rags for rich couture in a fast make-over, then introduces her onto the social scene. But soon Guinevere has been spotted by a rather posh designer of women’s brassieres. He knows her real identity.

Although much of the film’s ending is unfairly revealed in the title, Guinevere and Delysia make a jolly good show of empowering each other to discover their romantic destinies. Their 24-hr storybook escapade is condensed down to an all-too-brief hour and a half.

Amy Adams calls the film “a female-driven story that originated from a female perspective; the journey is about finding out what – and who – is right for you, what is truly best for you, and about being true to yourself even as you step outside of your comfort zone.”

Guinevere seems to get a disproportionate number of witty lines, and McDormand demonstrates a flair for comedy only hinted at in previous roles. By contrasting a strict working-class Presbyterian ethic against Delysia’s hedonism, she is able to furnish the movie with a delightfully light-hearted note, keeping a smile playing at the corners of our lips for much of the action.

Gorgeous costumes and wonderful historic re-creation for the sets add a sense of wonder for a style of farce that has long since passed out of fashion. But for all its loveable gaiety, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day still feels rather well-worn, like an Ealing comedy-by-numbers. Guinevere is the only well-developed character and the whole thing has an air of prettiness and predictability.

For Mary Poppins fans who want nothing too demanding, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is a nostalgic, warm-hearted comedy that is unlikely to upset anyone. Which is not to say it will blow your socks off either.

Reviewed on: 04 Jul 2008
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An actress dresses up a former governess so she can experience a glamorous life as they help one another with romantic problems.
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Director: Bharat Nalluri

Writer: David Magee, Simon Beaufoy

Starring: Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Ciarán Hinds, Lee Pace, Tom Payne, Shirley Henderson

Year: 2008

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2008

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