Monday, May 26, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, (Nalluri, 2008)

Just because a movie is a light comedy doesn't mean it cannot be good. Remember Bringing Up Baby or It Happened One Night. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day might not be equal to either of these, but it's not a chick flick either. It is more in the tradition of a British costume drama, recreating the world of flappers and flyboys where life is as serious as the lyrics of a Cole Porter song.

Even though it tries to ground its reality in the onset of the Second World War, the director makes sure that things don't get too heavy. It helps that it is anchored by two actors on the top of their game: Amy Adams, just as she did in Enchanted, shows how she can play her part with total conviction whether it be a Disney princess come to life in New York or Sally Grubb from Chicago reinvented as Delysia LaFosse, cabaret singer in pre-war London. What could be irritating is beguiling. Frances McDormand matches her step for step as Guinevere Pettigrew, the nanny who has been sacked from every position she has held (with good cause it would appear) and who finagles her way into the life of Ms LaFosse just in time for the most important day of both their lives.

Just about everyone else gets into the spirit so well* that it is like watching one of those BBC adaptions of an Agatha Christie novel, period perfect and so beloved of PBS on a Saturday night. The only wrong note may be the casting of Lee Pace as the hearthrob, Michael. Unlike Delysisa's two other suitors, he comes across as far too modern and intense for the mood of the movie even though you still end up rooting for him.

(*None more so than Ciaràn Hinds and Shirley Henderson)

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