Well, I do so enjoy a movie that looks back to the fashionable- and which-boy-will-she-pick- and what-tune-will-she-sing- stories of a different time. Laden with high fashion (though I wasn’t a fan of this hat), 30’s slang, friendship, and Lee Pace, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day has a lot of things going for it. It tells the story of Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), a newly homeless, unemployed governess who sneaks her way into the position of up-and-coming American stage actress Delysia Lafosse’s (Amy Adams) social secretary. Immediately, she is swept up into Delysia’s whirlwind triple love life: she is dating a young theater producer (Tom Payne) in hopes of scoring a lead role and a successful night club owner (Mark Strong) who funds her lifestyle, while simultaneously she strings along pianist Michael (Lee Pace), the man she loves. Guinevere feels very out of place and out of step in this fast-paced world of secrets and debauchery (the daughter of a minister, she had had a rather sheltered childhood), but her forthrightness, pragmatism, and quick-thinking become of indespensible use to the flighty actress. All in one day she is able to help Delysia sort out her career and romantic problems, give a lingerie designer (Ciaran Hinds) a new perspective on life, plus get a stylish makeover. A strong bond between Guinevere and Delysia is established early on, and the story is sort of told through the focus of female comraderie
Overall it is well-paced and well-acted, but unfortunately it wasn’t as well-developed as it could have been. I go by what a friend said to me when he watched it: It should have been a musical. I felt things moved a bit too fast at parts, and certain characters could have been expanded upon. In musical format the story could have been adjusted and broadened to give more information on people’s backgrounds, and everything would have just generally been better! More costumes, jazzy dance numbers, showing off Amy Adams’ talents (she only sang briefly at the end). It could have been like Miss Pettigrew Is Caught In A Rich Person’s Musical, with the high society folk she meets singing around her about how wonderful and hedonistic life can be, while she is thrown into a chair and looks around in fear and confusion, unsure why these people are singing at her. Yeah. Man what a good idea I just had.
Anyway it was very enjoyable, though nothing particularly special. I’ve never read the book so I don’t know how it compares, but I’ve seen some comments online that the movie had a lot more war-related stuff (there’s an air raid drill), and a generally darker mood than the very light-hearted novel. Also the whole “Let’s have American actors star in a movie about British people” was a little weird, but most of the supporting cast was from the UK. Either way, good times for any fan of love stories, classic comedies, happy endings, and 30’s fashion.