Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Review by Jack Foley
FRANCES McDormand and Amy Adams provide a delightful double act in this enjoyable, if lightweight, adaptation of the popular 1938 novel by British author Winifred Watson.
It’s London 1938 and dowdy middle-aged governess Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (McDormand) finds herself on the bread line after being dismissed from her latest job.
Desperate for employment, she shows up at the posh flat of Delysia Lafosse (Adams), a glamorous and overly amorous nightclub singer, who immediately calls upon the stunned Pettigrew to help her juggle her numerous suitors.
Finding herself catapulted into the glamorous and dizzying social whirl of London’s high society, Miss Pettigrew suddenly finds every dream that she had given up on becoming a reality, including the possibility of romance.
Directed by Bharat Nalluri (of the BBC’s Spooks, Life on Mars and Hustle fame), Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day offers a frivolous fairytale romp through a bygone era that’s fun, if instantly forgettable.
Nalluri captures the tone of the period well, whether it’s the socialite parties or changing fashions, and creates the type of atmosphere in which his leading ladies thrive.
Needless to say, McDormand is typically brilliant as the plucky but morally astute Miss Pettigrew, constantly having to think on her feet and adapt to Delysia’s whims, yet steadfast in her resolve to cling onto her values. And Adams excels as the carefree Delysia, whose gleeful disregard for the etiquette of the day provides a nice contrast to the wonderful naivety she displayed in Enchanted
Unfortunately, Nalluri is less successful in juggling the many men in Delysia’s life and fails to provide the likes of Marc Strong and Lee Pace with enough time to make their characters more complex or interesting. It also deprives the piece of any real dramatic tension when it comes to Delysia’s belated decision-making.
But in a strong ensemble cast, Ciarán Hinds also stands out as an honourable fashion designer, while Shirley Henderson provides a suitably scheming minx.
The overall result is a generally pleasing confection that’s worth catching for the performances of its leading ladies alone.
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD Release: March 9, 2009