The gist: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the story of a day in the life of Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) – a dowdy, down-on-her-luck governess. The daughter of a minister, Miss Pettigrew feels it her duty to speak her mind about her employee’s indiscretions, attempting to get them on the straight and narrow. Needless to say, such “helpfulness” is not-so-very appreciated; when she is fired from her third assignment, the employment agency refuses to be of further service. So she steals an assignment – becoming social secretary to Delysia Lafosse, an American actress. Suddenly her life is anything but boring. But it is her truthfulness and concerned meddling – the very things that got her in trouble in the first place – that will ultimately save the day.
My take: I LOVED this movie. To anyone who has called me a throw-back … or even thought it … this will come as no surprise. Set at the dawn of WWII England, I loved the setting, the styles, and the music. That much is given. But it’s so much more. The story (based on the novel by Winifred Watson) is heartfelt; the screenplay (written by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy) simply charming. Bharat Nalluri’s direction depicts life on the verge of WWII like a symphony; and the actors bring a hint of magic as witnessed in films of the golden era. But that which holds it all together is the chemistry between Frances McDormand (Miss Pettrigrew) and Amy Adams (Delysia Lafosse). Given the nature of the two parts, lesser actresses would have been little more than annoying. Instead we are granted a rare glimpse at two opposing worlds – the carefree innocence of youth and the reserved wisdom of maturity. And oh that we should be so lucky to have our own Miss Pettigrew touch our lives.
An aside: Yes, this movie is a chick-flick. We had a pair of couples sitting behind us. As we were leaving the theatre the “boys” were bemoaning the fact that they had to endure such agony. The “girls” were of course trying to appease said boys by promising to go to 88 minutes on the next go around. Of course, most of the comments from the peanut gallery came from the guys behind us. And they were not snide remarks, I might add. So whether they would ever – in a MILLION years – admit it, they too were engrossed in the film.