Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)


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, an 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 Man Who Invented Christmas) 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.

Frankly, I would have loved to see a bit more Frances McDormand than Amy 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.

P.S. This is my contribution to The Lucky 13 Film Club, hosted by Cindy Bruchman and Ruth (FlixChatter).

5 responses to “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)

  1. I really enjoy this one, too, and thought the cast was superb. It’s one of those films I like to re-watch periodically; actually one of my favorites from the last ten years or so.

    I like your connection with Runyon, too…especially with Lady for a Day. That would be a fun double feature!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s