The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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‘Pettigrew’ brightens the day but doesn’t break the mold

The verdict is in?everyone needs a Miss Pettigrew in their lives.

The film “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” portrays Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand-think “Friends with Money,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” and “Almost Famous”), a socially awkward, unlucky English governess (nanny) who finds herself out of yet another job and living on the streets of London. Following a string of serendipitous circumstances, Miss Pettigrew lands herself a job as a “social secretary” for an American actress named Delysia Lafosse, played by Amy Adams (“Enchanted”). The sassy, almost too frenzied, actress takes Miss Pettigrew for a ride unlike any other, as the new social secretary finds herself cleaning-up one mess after another for the young starlet.

The film, which is said to take place in the late 1930s, is based off a novel written in 1938 of the same title authored by Winifred Watson. Although the acting-specifically that of Adams-is at times a bit over the top, the cast-Mark Strong as Nick, Lafosse’s controlling lover, Tom Payne as Phil, Lafosse’s young, successful and rich lover, and Lee Pace as Michael, Lafosse’s rugged, “bad-boy” lover-exudes the appropriate temperament of pre-World War II jitters.

McDormand’s performance as the haphazardly put together nanny turned sophisticated socialite is brilliant. She truly brings life to the awkward woman behind the drab clothing. Opposite her, Adams, is anything but drab. With her bubbly personality, perpetual lying and passion for stardom, Adams portrays to a T the flailing life of the average starlet.

As Miss Pettigrew makes her way out of her humdrum life and into the spotlight, her outer appearance transforms (with the help of the Lafosse and her rival socialite and friend, Edythe) and she stumbles upon a few messes of her own. As a new love interest enters her life and a new enemy is formed, the plot takes a predictable turn of events.

Although the beginning half of the film makes one hope for an unconventional ending (and at times it seems like we just might get one), the ending is definitely not much of a surprise.?

Pace’s (“Pushing Daisies”) performance as a down-to-earth, philosophical-yet rough around the edges-guy, is particularly well done. As for Strong’s (“Oliver Twist” and “Tristan ‘ Isolde”), his performance as the observant but overbearing lover is at times over-acted.

Payne, a newcomer to the film industry, makes his theatrical debut in “Miss Pettigrew.” His boyish good looks and charming personality are sure to land him more roles in the industry.

Supporting actors Ciaran Hinds as Joe and Shirley Henderson as Edythe, do a good job as the unhappily married couple that just can’t get enough.

As for the plot, a basic knowledge of the era may help fill in the gaps where the script leaves audience members a little in the dark. But in truth, as long as you know the movie takes place just at the start of WWII, and that obviously, WWII follows another infamous war (also known as WWI), you are pretty much in the clear.

The film also makes clever references; one scene eludes to a famous painting by Sandro Botticelli titled “Birth of Venus.” Although these references do not always add meaning to the plot, they do keep audience members wondering if there are more-at least for those who are playing close attention. Other things to keep an eye out for: gas masks and cultural lingerie.

Regardless, the performances are stellar and the plot is not too shabby either (even if it is a little predictable). “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” may not make it into next years Oscars, but it will definitely make for a good night out.

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