On a personal level Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is off to a bad start. The main reason is that I am not in any way a fan of period pieces. Now granted this plays as a backdrop rather than a central element of the film, but it doesn’t help that nothing else about the film seemed all that great to me.
The time period is the late 1930s (shortly before WWII is about to kick off) and Coen Brothers favourite Frances McDormand plays Miss Pettigrew, a nanny who mistakenly steals a job she thinks requires her skills when actually the position is for a social secretary. When she arrives she finds Amy Adams’ Delysia Lafosse, an actress/singer, and she quickly helps to whip her life into shape. Delysia has three boyfriends, and with the help of Miss Pettigrew she wants to choose between them. While doing this, Miss Pettigrew finds herself in a love triangle of her own with a lingerie designer, played by Ciaran Hinds, and his cold, bitchy wife.
Now I am not one to completely bash a film because of a certain dislike while omitting the positive aspects I found. The positive qualities start with a pretty obvious one — the production design. Although it never really rings true that it’s set in this particular period of time I still can admit that on a technical level, much like the film Married Life, this is pretty impressive stuff. From the costumes to the make-up, from the hairdos to the surrounding streets, it’s all very correct, if I may use such a bold word.
Frances McDormand, who is the best part of the film, shows that she is as diverse an actress as they come (perhaps even more so) and her character here could have easily been a character created by the Coen brothers; perhaps it would have been a little more developed, but you catch my drift. This is my first time seeing Amy Adams in a film (I never did catch Enchanted) and I’m sorry to say I found her very annoying here. I don’t know if she is like this as an actress of whether it was the way the character was written but either way I just found her extremely irritating. The rest of the cast I felt were pretty wasted here. Although they are fantastic actors on their own, especially Ciaran Hinds and Mark Strong, they just weren’t given all that much to do.