“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” is an underrated gem that didn’t make a huge splash over here. It’s a quirky comedy in the vein of 1930s screwball films that I consider a breath of fresh air. In looking at the DVD I would have preferred a bit more history on the film but overall fans of this film, as well as the casual filmgoer, will enjoy this movie.
Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a governess who can’t seem to keep a job. When she finally runs out of options she steals a steals a job meant for someone else. The job is that of a “social secretary” for the starlet Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Delysia has her own problems courting three men, one who can help her get a job, another who’s a controlling nightclub owner, and the man who loves her for who she is. When Miss Pettigrew and Delysia spend a day on the town both women find out things about themselves and learn valuable lessons in love and making life count.
I hate to say this movie is cute but it truly is. It’s a charming comedy filled with one-liners, great character development and an overall sense of freshness that isn’t seen in comedies nowadays. The movie may be set in a different time, as World War II is coming in, but it also feels like it’s from a different time. The characters are all loveable and each has moments where you truly root for them. A lot of this can be attributed to how the actors portray their roles. McDormand and Adams are just amazing together, one being a governess who’s never taken a chance while the other is a starlet who takes chances everyday, and their moments together are the best in the movie. The men in this are also real characters, unlike in previous female films where the men are marginalized, such as Lee Pace’s lovesick Michael to Ciarian Hinds lingerie designer who loves Miss Pettigrew. Every actor in this truly brings their A game and it’s amazing to watch.
The DVD is somewhat light but there are some interesting bits. The commentary with director Bharat Nalluri is fascinating as he discusses film locations, who the characters are, etc. Unfortunately Nalluri can be a bit dry and monotonous and isn’t as engaging as other directors commenting on their films but overall you do learn a bit about the film. There are a few deleted scenes including an extended opening and some other comedic bits but it’s easy to figure out why they weren’t included. “Miss Pettigrew’s Long Trip to Hollywood” is a fascinating feature on how the film was attempted several times since 1938 and it gives an amazing overview of the original work, I actually wish this feature was longer. “Making an Unforgettable Day” was probably my least favorite feature as it’s a very long making-of featurette. I actually wish this one was shorter in favor of making the other one longer.
Overall I consider “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” a great romantic comedy that is out of a different time. The movie gets a 4/5 and the DVD itself gets a 3/5, definitely pick it up at your video store.