In pre-World War II London, England, a prudish and penniless governess, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand, Fargo), finds herself working for a high-spirited, sophisticated American singer-actress, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams, American Hustle).
Reaction & Thoughts:
Charming period comedy with a good amount of tartness cutting through the bright cheery atmosphere nicely. It’s kind of a Runyonesque story, a homage of sorts to Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day and many other Hollywood Depression-Era comedies, like Dinner at Eight and Design For Living. It’s performed with gusto by a great cast and the movie looks gorgeous — if you love the Art Deco of the 1930s as much I do you’ll enjoy the fabulous sets.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri (The Crow: Salvation) from a screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day does a pretty good job mixing madcap humor, sentiment and some very serious social issues.
For all its glitz and silliness, there is something terribly sad about the movie. The so-called happy ending only serves to reinforce the idea that women had to pick a man, any man, or end up on the streets. That awful reality puts a cloud over the proceedings, but it does give the frantic plot a much-needed shot of realism.
I would have loved to see a bit more McDormand than Adams, but that’s not a big complaint, really. I think both of the actors are terrific. Adams performs the song “If I Didn’t Care,” written by Jack Lawrence, one of the film’s highlights. The fantastic cast also includes Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty) as Nick, Tom Payne (Inheritance) as Phil, Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) as Michael, and Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Joe.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Movies like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day are so rare nowadays. That’s, perhaps, why I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It’s breezy and very entertaining, and it makes you think too. Not bad, not bad at all. Color, 92 minutes, Rated PG.