As in MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS and BEING JULIA, this period comedy brings wit and style to its depiction of 1930s London. Based on Winifred Watson's novel, MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY begins with the title character, a frumpy governess winningly played by Frances McDormand (FARGO), being turned away from her employment agency. After losing her job prospects and all her earthly possessions in a mishap, Guinevere Pettigrew isn't sure where her next meal is coming from. But some cleverness leads her to the door of aspiring actress Delysia Lafosse, a woman who needs a social secretary to juggle her three men: a nightclub owner (Mark Strong), a son of a theatre producer (Tom Payne), and a piano player (Lee Pace). The first two offer her a chance at stardom, but the pianist can't give her anything but love. In a single day, Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia navigate the ever-stormy waters of love, while she learns that romance may not only be reserved for the young.
With its witty script and jazzy score, MISS PETTIGREW may seem feather-light at times, but there's an undercurrent of sadness that gives the comedy a bit of weight. World War II is just about to come to London, and the echoes of the previous war still haunt those who can remember it. Unsurprisingly, McDormand gives a fantastic performance as the title character, but the effervescent Adams continues to surprise, even after turning in great work in JUNEBUG and ENCHANTED. As impressive as the two female leads are, there are some excellent performances from two male co-stars: Ciaran Hinds (MARGOT AT THE WEDDING) is perfectly warm as a lingerie designer Miss Pettigrew encounters, and Pace (PUSHING DAISIES) wins hearts as the faithful Michael. Costume designer Michael O'Connor also deserves praise for creating the film's eye-catching clothing.
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