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Jaunty screwball comedy is not one to Miss

PUBLISHED: 16:54 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 17:10 16 August 2010

BASED on the 1938 novel by Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day sees Frances McDormand frumping it up as a down on her luck governess whose life is transformed by a chance meeting with an aspiring starlet

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY

CERT PG

BASED on the 1938 novel by Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day sees Frances McDormand frumping it up as a down on her luck governess whose life is transformed by a chance meeting with an aspiring starlet.

After her desperate search for work ends in abysmal failure, Miss Pettigrew finds herself on the doorstep of a swanky London pad owned by Delysia LaFosse (Amy Adams), a gold-digging young singer/actress who has overextended herself socially.

With three men on the go, nightclub owner Nick (Mark Strong), pianist Michael (Lee Pace) and impresario and theatre producer's son Phil (Tom Payne), Miss LaFosse is quickly losing track of where she should be and when.

The story follows the events over the course of a full day as the enterprising Pettigrew uses her old-fashioned common sense to help to transform the life of the wannabe starlet and, in the process, her own.

The film is packed full of snappy back-and-forth dialogue reminiscent of the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 40s and is backed up by a suitably breezy jazz score.

With her frizzy Brillo pad hair and battered old coat, Miss Pettigrew appears to be the dishevelled antithesis of her glamorous employer, but her level head and quick-thinking indicate that there's a lot more going on inside.

McDormand pitches her performance perfectly and loads simple gestures like a tilt of the head or roll of the eyes with meaning.

Adams provides an excellent foil as the effervescent Miss LaFosse - whirling through the film like a mini pink satin hurricane - and the male cast are similarly impressive.

Light as a glass of bubbly but naughty like a Martini at lunchtime, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a jaunty look back at an often overlooked but still relevant style of filmmaking.

* Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day opens in cinemas on Friday, August 15.

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