Costume dramas are uncommon in the U.S. market. There’s always a superb BBC drama (or two!), but for those of us in the states who love the genre, we must wait longer to enjoy their latest masterpiece. In one of my Internet browsing sessions, I ran across Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day prior to its release, and needless to say I was curious. It isn’t a traditional costume film but is loads of fun and a “day” that will leave you smiling long after the closing credits.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) Film Review
The day starts out badly for Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), and just gets worse. Her most recent job as a governess doesn’t work out and she is put onto the streets by her tipsy employer without a weeks pay, leaving her destitute. Her bad luck continues when she can’t seem to find a decent meal, loses her only possessions after a run in with a young man just released from prison and the employment office won’t reconsider her for another job. Desperate, she eavesdrops on a request for what she assumes is a position as a nanny. The address leads her to the home of aspiring actress and singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams).
Delysia, it seems is in quite a predicament. Without knowing exactly who Miss Pettigrew is, she begs her help in getting out of a dilemma. Once the crisis passes, Delysia takes Guinevere, her new social secretary, on a shopping spree where life sweeps into a dizzying world of glamour and love triangles.
Before I saw this, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I did assume I’d like it at the very least, but didn’t realize how much I’d adore it. Now, several showings later, I consider it a favorite along the tradition of Importance of Being Earnest or Miramax’s Emma. There’s a kind of infectious energy the filmmakers and stars bring to the screen; and it’s a genuine delight to see unfold. I’m captivated by the film before ten minutes pass, and the meeting between Delysia and Guinevere is a laugh-a-minute. The costumes, cinematography and props are spectacular. With the era being right before World War II, the design crew creates looks that appear period authentic. Plus, Delysia’s evening gown was gorgeous.‘MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY’ (2010) #FWarchives #PeriodDrama Click To Tweet
This satire has all the elements that we love – comedy, drama and romance. The funny side comes greatly at Miss Adams expense, but she really brings a lot of sparkle to the role. The major dilemma in Delysia’s life is the three potential suitors; all of whom are very different, forcing her to choose between wealth, and love. (If you love a happy-ever-after, this up ties up in a pretty package.) Some dramatic effect comes in with an impending war that threatens citizens. (A unique approach to the script is the fact that Miss Pettigrew ironically “meets” several of the characters that are about to come into her life before knowing them.)
Apart from the superb performances, there are numerous other actors that deserve mention such as Ciaran Hinds (in the role of a rich business man) and all three of Delysia’s beau’s are debonair. (Although it’s a little odd to see the kind-hearted Mark Strong from A&E’s Emma as a callous night club owner!) Understand, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is far from perfection, but it’s such a comic romp through the 1930’s that one can almost forget its faults. There is one subplot that’s a bit trite (a man in prison with little good reason). Nevertheless, I find I did love the film and the ending is so touching that for the most part we can forgive nearly anything. It’s a day in London you’ll want to revisit.
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Content: Delysia sleeps with a man in order to get a part. A full shot of backside male nudity plus two more instances of nudity are present. Mild profanity and other innuendos appear. Social drinking is typical. A woman is cheating on her fiancé. The film is PG13.