Customer Review

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Brother, can you spare a dime?', August 23, 2008
This review is from: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Widescreen & Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
The lead-in cinematic and musical elements for this delightfully entertaining, fast paced, little bit of nostalgia film prepares the viewer for the story as well as any 'overture' could. The setting is London in the 1930s, the day of the first blitzkrieg, and the tone of the imagery is that quiet depression and angst that tainted the world during that time. We meet our main character Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, a dowdy, middle-aged failed governess as she wanders through the streets and soup kitchens - all to the tune of 'Brother, can you spare a dime'. This 'day in a life' abruptly changes when Miss Pettigrew, still saddened by the loss of her beloved in WW I and struggling to be moral as the daughter of a clergyman in a world gone to tatters. How she finds one day of joy - and in the process changes the lives of those she encounters - is the line of the story, a screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy based on the novel of the same name by Winifred Watson and directed with a fine sense of timing and comedy cum pathos by Bharat Nalluri.

Quite by a fluke Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) absconds the name of a potential client from her caustic job finder and rings the bell of one Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), a beautiful young American manipulator of men living in one boyfriend's luxurious flat while entertaining others who may help her reach her dream of being a star on the musical stage. Delysia believes Miss Pettigrew to be a social secretary and immediately involves her in the game of her life of flirtation and illusion. Miss Pettigrew, at first shocked by the 'social setting', soon adapts and indeed supports Delysia's efforts of meandering through gentleman callers, and as Delysia finds Miss Pettigrew indispensible she dresses her well and introduces her to a life Miss Pettigrew finds quite foreign but equally fascinating. In rapid fire sequence, at times overlapping like a Keystone Cops movie, we meet Delysia's paramours (played with devilish glee by Tom Payne, Mark Strong, and Lee Pace) as well as high society dames (Shirley Henderson) and the one man who seems above it all - Ciarán Hinds. All of this wild dash through the superficial society affairs is played against the all but ignore threat of the impending WW II and it all happens in one day. But at the end of that day the bond between Miss Pettigrew and Delysia is genuinely sealed and for a moment at least it seems Miss Pettigrew's previously dour existence has changed.

A fine cast, an intelligent director, a creative cinematographer John de Borman, and a well informed musical director Paul Englishby make this bit of froth into a confection that contains some social commentary ingredients. The costumes and sets are splendid and provide a view of London before the devastation of the war that is rich in nostalgia. Not a great movie, but a delightful romp that allows McDormand and Adams the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable comedy gifts. Grady Harp, August 08
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Review Details

Item

Reviewer

Grady Harp
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Los Angeles, CA United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 72