Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the cutest film I’ve seen to date that isn’t a children’s film or a romantic comedy. Though, I suppose the argument could be made that it was a romantic comedy but I don’t think it was. I think it was a straight comedy, pure and simple and I think the film was better for it.
Amy Adams charmingly plays Delysia, an American actress and singer who has never had her big break nor has she ever worked anywhere than the Scarlet Peacock under the direction of abusive owner Nick (Mark Strong with hair!). However, that doesn’t stop her from having a string of lovers and all the finery Nick’s money can buy. This is how Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) finds Delysia when she steals a business card from the employment office after losing her last job. Miss Pettigrew is broke, homeless, and hungry when she is swept up into Delysia’s life of glamour but Delysia has her own problems – war is looming – and Miss Pettigrew, despite being penniless, captures the attention of a lovely underwear designer named Joe (Ciaran Hinds).
You guys, I came for Lee Pace, who plays Delysia’s main love interest Mike, and stayed for Ciaran Hinds. His chemistry with McDormand is off the charts. Not to mention the fact that besides Mike, lovely, piano playing Irishman Mike, he is the only decent man in this movie. It’s implied that he didn’t come from money and thus money doesn’t interest him. In fact, he’s only engaged to be married to a member of society because it seems like he’s been forced into it. Miss Pettigrew and Joe are the most adorable couple ever. They know that war is upon England and they share the common bond of having lived through the first war and now they’ll live through the second war together. If that’s not the cutest thing in the world, I don’t know what is.
Pace, bless him, shines in every single role I’ve ever seen him. This one is no different. Mike and Delysia are the second most adorable couple in this film. Of course, to be fair, they’re the only other real couple in this film, and Pace plays Mike to perfection. There is a restraint to Pace’s acting that makes Mike and Delysia’s relationship so heartbreaking until it culminates in a wonderful and loving rendition of “If I Didn’t Care”. Adams and Pace used their own singing voices for the song and it was so perfect. The emotions there from the both of them broke my heart.
I do have to say, though, that the plot, overall, was a bit uneven. Mike was introduced way too late in the game, despite him being absolutely charming and amazing. It was almost like the screenwriters, the producers and the director didn’t know what to do with Delysia’s ever-revolving door of men so they focused on all the wrong ones. Yes, I’m aware that the whole goal of Miss Pettigrew was to try to help Delysia get the lead in a musical so she could be rich and not worry about money or status or lack thereof, but, in the end, it fell flat for me. The characters sparkled brightly, don’t get me wrong, but the plot just… lacked. Despite that, though, I really thought this was a charming film. It was definitely a great period piece that highlighted the splendor of pre-war Britain and the interesting relationship between the rich and the poor.
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