Delta Films Movie Reviews
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Review - " Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day " (in theatres) - By Ken Ellis
Review: "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" - in theatres
A Focus Features release. Directed by Bharat Nalluri.
Screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, based
on the novel by Winifred Watson.
Starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams.
Having no prospects for employment on the horizon in 1939 depression era England (and nothing to eat - a plot point used throughout
the film), she poses as a social secretary and winds up working in a completely different environment, that of an American singer /
actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Immediately she is thrown into the whirlwind of chaos and confusion that is Delysia's life. Delysia,
who is apparently trying to sleep here way to fame and fortune, is having difficulty removing one amours houseguest before the next
shows up. When Pettigrew attempts to apply her nanny skills to removing the young man, she finds they don't work as well on someone
who is 'bigger' than what she is used to. And so we're off, following Miss Pettigrew on her day long journey where things are never quite
what they always appear to be; those who might be victims are actually predators, those who seem nice are actually evil and so on.
But before you think this is some simple madcap romantic comedy, think again. Nalluri uses the fact that Europe is on the verge of
entering into World War II as a great dramatic backdrop. Many of the characters are still living with the emotional wounds from the first
World War. He also gives great depth to his characters - Adams plays Delyssia not just as some attractive fluff on her way to stardom, but
as someone torn between her ambitions and her heart. She floats not one, not two, but three suitors (the stage producer, the gangster
and the true love) throughout the story. McDormand's Pettigrew is played not just as some clever outsider brought in to teach the rich
about life, but as someone who is lacking just as much in her personal life as she is in her professional life. She stands, at times, as a
mirror image to some of those she comes in contact with.
Besides the great acting, the film is also blessed with some snappy dialogue that gives the film its 1930s feel, along with the outstanding
sets and costumes. At times, you are left wondering if this shouldn't have been made in black & white to complete the feel, but the use of
color throughout the film is striking. Also contributing to this is the 1930s style jazz music. When Adams breaks into a truly touching
version of "If I Didn't Care", it seals the deal on this outstanding film.
Having all the elements necessary for a great film - solid acting, great artwork, great direction and even good music, I have to give this
one a solid 9 (out of 10).
March 12, 2008
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Every so often a film comes along that, upon having just
seen it, you could turn right around and go for a second
viewing, like a summers day out at the ice cream stand. So it
is with "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day", a film with great
dialogue, great acting and more style than anything I've seen
since "LA Confidential". Based on the 1938 novel, the film
follows a day in the life of Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances
McDormand), a professional nanny who keeps getting fired
from her positions for 'being disagreeable' with the clients.