11 October 2016

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (starring Frances McDormand)

I think this film was recommended to me by Amazon a while ago. It went on my wishlist, and I was given it for Christmas nearly two years ago. It took all this time to decide to watch it; and what a treat it turned out to be!

Set in the 1930s, the film stars Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew, a rather dowdy middle-aged woman who has just lost her job. It appears that she’s somewhat unconventional in her style of work, and the employment agency don’t have anything for her. And then her day gets worse….

Eventually she finds herself at the plush apartment where Delysia, a night-club singer (Amy Adams), is panicking. The place is in chaos, and there’s a young lover in her bed. The apartment belongs to another man, whom she is rather afraid of… she’s glitzy, talented, and rather too addicted to men.

The contrast between the two women is dramatic. Delysia sees Miss Pettigrew as her saviour, however, and the film follows the day that they spend together, untangling Delysia’s love-life and determining her future.

The settings are realistic, the storyline unusual, and the acting mostly excellent. Inevitably there are caricatures, but it’s that kind of film: people behaved in character, if perhaps a bit exaggeratedly so. The pace was just right for our tastes, though it’s not going to appeal to those who want fast action. To lift a little from the humour, and show the serious setting of the frivolous lifestyles of nightclub singers, there are hints - and more than hints - of the coming world war.

There’s no real plot or storyline, it’s more a story of transformation: as Miss Pettigrew, as Delysia’s social secretary, gets her out of trouble repeatedly, she discovers new things about herself and makes new friends. The ending is unrealistic given that the events and meetings that take pace over a single day, but it doesn’t matter; it’s all highly satisfactory, and very nicely done.

We both enjoyed this film very much.

Rated PG, although I’d have thought the innuendoes and implications would have made it 12. Indeed, in the more cautious United States, the rating is PG-13. Still, there’s not much violence, and nothing explicit, nor is the language too ‘strong’. I don’t suppose it would appeal to children anyway.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

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