I've been putting off writing this review for a week, mostly because I'm a lazy bum, but partially because I can't figure out how to talk about it without sounding like a giggly little girl. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is just that kind of movie. After I watched it, I wanted to dress up and go out on the town!
Guinevere Pettigrew, played to perfection by Frances McDormand, is a frumpy, fussy governess who can't keep a job. When her umpteenth job lands her on the streets with nothing to her name, she returns to the staffing agency just to be told there will never be work for her again. In an act of desperation, Miss Pettigrew pretends to be something she isn't and ends up becoming the social secretary for Amy Adams' Delysia Lafosse. Delysia is a singer/actress who uses her talents in bed to get ahead, and Miss Pettigrew acts as her anchor. The women spend an eventful day and night together figuring out love, destiny, and dealing with the beginning of World War II.
Miss Pettigrew is definitely what I would call "screwball light." The women are strong and outspoken. The men are handsome and eloquent, and the physical comedy is kept to a minimum. Because it's so light and airy, this movie would be lost without its phenomenal cast.
It takes a certain actor to really pull off screwball comedy. Cary Grant was the master. Irene Dunne and Carole Lombard were spectacular too. But there aren't many modern-day actors who can really do it like they could. Fortunately, some of the ones who can are in this movie.
Frances McDormand, as always, is spectacular as Miss Pettigrew. Anyone familiar with her work knows she's an incredible character actor, and now we finally get to see her as a lead...with a romantic interest no less!
Amy Adams is perfectly perky. She seems to be playing the same character as she did in Enchanted, just with a very dark place added. Her effervescence is simply intoxicating, and juxtaposed with McDormand's stern and somewhat shy character makes for a flawless pairing.
The supporting cast is just as good. Shirley Henderson's wavery, high-pitched voice works with her character's furtive ways. Just listening to her coerce Miss Pettigrew sent chills up my spine, and a normal-voiced person (no offense intended) couldn't pull it off the way she does.
Lee Pace is absolutely adorable (and a dead-ringer for Clive Owen) as the talented pianist Michael.
And then there's Ciran Hinds. The "that guy" in the movie. I fell in love with his Joe Blumfield as soon as he spoke his first line. The chemistry between him and McDormand is palpable. When a man can make you a little weak in the knees just by complementing a scarf, it's pretty amazing.
If you love a good screwball comedy along the lines of My Favorite Wife, or if you just wish you could have one of those memorable days that changes your life forever, then you need to live this day with Miss Pettigrew.