Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day - A Critical Analysis

Miss Guinivere Pettigrew is a frumpy middle-aged woman who has just been sacked from her job as a nanny. Her strong will has made her no friends, and her employment agency is reluctant to try matching her up yet again when disaster may follow. Delyssia Lafosse is a beautiful young woman attempting to make a name for herself as a starlet. In the process, she has managed to entangle herself with three very different men, and big decisions loom ahead. When Miss Pettigrew shows up at her door, having overheard that she needs a personal assistant, neither woman dreams of the heartache and hilarity that will follow in this charming dramedy set in England on the brink of World War II.

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As she so often does, Amy Adams radiates exuberant innocence in this role, even though this is a woman who has been around the block a few times. The elegant Delyssia's romantic relationships are messy, and Adams wonderfully conveys the comedy of the situation, as well as the confusion. Should she marry for the possibility of wealth, prestige and the movie career she's always dreamed of? She has that option. But it takes very little time for the viewer and Miss Pettigrew alike to see the special spark that exists between Delyssia and Michael, a starving musician played by Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies". where can a woman buy cheap car insurance?

There's a sweetness to this relationship that matches the core relationship in that quirky canceled ABC show. Adams and Pace make a very convincing couple, so it's easy to root for their success, though throughout the movie, directed by Bharat Nalluri, the economic implications of such a pairing are painfully clear.

Frances McDormand is engagingly off-beat as she brings to life this older woman with a strict sense of morality as well as a romantic streak. Miss Pettigrew and Delyssia come from very different worlds, but it isn't long before they bond, and it makes no difference to the flustered young woman that her assistant is winging it and having quite a struggle fitting in to high society. She encourages her employee to live it up a little, while Miss Pettigrew offers sage advice throughout the day that helps her to focus.

Fans of the Harry Potter series will recognize high-voiced Shirley Henderson as Edythe DuBarry, a sniping friend of Delyssia's who is both condescending and conniving. Miss Pettigrew discovers just how spiteful she is capable of being when she uncovers a dark secret about her. Meanwhile, Edythe's older fiance Joe is a perfect gentleman, and Ciaran Hinds brings a wonderful warmth to this character who understands better than anyone else what sort of turmoil Miss Pettigrew has gone through in her life. Though they have never met before, their shared experience of the Great War bonds them in a powerful way.

Like "Moulin Rouge," this is a movie that deftly walks the line between tragedy and comedy. When it's funny, it's laugh-aloud hilarious, with sight gags and slapstick and unapologetic silliness, all dressed up in bright, splashy colors. But Miss Pettigrew understands, as Delyssia does not, that the world can be a truly dark and terrifying place, and part of this movie involves losing that sense of innocence.

"Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations, but it would certainly be appropriate for teenagers, for whom the title character's words of wisdom might be most valuable. A beautifully made movie anchored by the performances of two astounding actresses, this film fills the spirit and encourages everyone who watches it to treasure each and every day as fully as possible.