Title: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Country: USA, UK
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Cinematography: John de Borman
Music: Paul Englishby
At times, it is axiomatically wholesome to watch a film stars Amy Adams, this 2008 indie fare directed by a relatively unknown name Bharat Nalluri is a delicious throwback of the era at the threshold of WWII, and it is a jolly one-day adventure in the posh London social stage.
The titular Miss Pettigrew (McDormand) is a newly dismissed governess and lives on the verge of indigence. One day her desperate stab to secure a job projects herself into the life of the striving American actress Delysia Lafosse (Adams), who is in a hurly-burly tangled with three men, who can in turns offer her money (Nick, played by Mark Strong), opportunity (Phil, played by Tom Payne) and love (Michael, played by the swoon-worthy Lee Pace), as her newly-hired social secretary, Miss Pettigrew forms a strong bond with her and eventually guides her to make the right choice, at the same time, she sweeps off the feet of Joe (Hinds), a successful lingerie designer by her unblemished charm, who is about to marry his girlfriend Edythe (Henderson), after this legendary day, everyone will channel their life to a new route.
Amy Adams confidently brings about a pungent screwball comedy element in her acting, a not-so-young starlet disguise her true nature to appear as a larger-than-life ingenue, she may be clumsy to switch between her male suitors (thanks to Miss Pettigrew for the on-time succour), yet, she is no dumb blonde either, she knows crystal clear what are their and her best assets, not entirely tainted by the hypocrisy and fluffiness of the showbiz, but she is perilously close to. McDormand is her tranquilliser and an enabler who can pave the way for her, deep down, there is kindred spirit between them, and the ending, warm and pleasing, how many times a single, destitute middle-aged woman can get her love which is financially out of her league? Certainly not among the main plots of a mainstream production. It is a stern defiance to the female-objectification reality, incredible to believe but it is a soothing breeze, McDormand is more than deserving with her pitch-perfect poise and down-to-earth dignity.
The climax is Adam’s rendition of the Jack Lawrence oldie IF I DIDN’T CARE, accompanied by Lee Pace’s piano, anyone who has a romantic predilection will find it irresistible, a clichéd strategy but potently effectuates the final act.
Unfortunately, the male counterparts are decorative props, each resides firmly in their own corner with hollowness inside apart from their designated and one-note personality. The true scene stealer is Shirley Henderson, cracks into my top-10 line-up of the year, her Edythe is a creature of out-and-out wile, Henderson’s distinctive voice seethes with contempt and misanthropy, even in her most subdued state, there is a teardrop dangling in her eye, she is doom to lose her game for being who she is, but her refusal to reconcile is searing to watch, this is an unheralded performance in an unheralded chick-flick, I feel responsible to hawk it out loud although barely everyone would notice.