Reel Shorts | Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

7 03 2008

A down-on-her-luck nanny with nothing to lose and know where to go takes a daring risk which pays off in a major way in the screwball romantic comedy, “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.”

Poor Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand). As the film starts, this middle-age governess has been dismissed from yet another job. With no new prospects on the horizon and her reputation in taters, what’s a resourceful woman to do? As they say, when opportunity knocks just pick up a lead from the desk of your former employer and hope for the best.

Pettigrew’s resourcefulness lands her on the doorstep of slighty-ditzy American actress/singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). With one man in her bed and another on the way, Lafosse could use a little help. In comes Miss Pettigrew and she not only saves the day, but helps her find her true self – and her love!

Quickly Pettigrew is hired as the new “social secretary” for the young singer. In charge of arranging her schedule, the first order of business are new clothes for the disheveled former governess. She must also be wary of the overly curious Charlotte (Christina Cole) who is the only one who is wise to Pettigrew’s “true identity.” Charlotte also senses that her boyfriend, Joe (Ciaran Hinds) may also have eyes for the popular Pettigrew.

Much like Peter Sellers in “Being There,” the bustling social set takes a liking to Pettigrew who is only employing common sense and being herself with the inauthentic crowd. In addition to setting Lafosse’s social schedule, Pettigrew finds time to instruct her to follow her heart and pursue her true love, Michael (“Pushing Daisies” Lee Pace).

Both McDormand and Adams sparkle in this story that is a throwback to late 1930s – early 1940 screwball comedy that featured the likes of Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Featuring frumpy makeup and appearance, McDormand still rises above these inadequacies and shines in the title role. But Adams is McDormand’s equal following up strong performances in “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Enchanted.” While her character initially appears flighty, Adams gives the character much needed depth in the film’s final act. In addition, the film’s set designs were absolutely gorgeous, expertly recreating 1939 London.

By the time McDormand’s long day has finally ended she has found much more than just a new job, she’s found the ability to love herself – and be loved. For Miss Pettigrew, what a difference just one day makes!

Grade: A-


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