Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
This archly retro variation on the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s makes a lively showcase for the contrasting talents of Amy Adams and Frances McDormand. The eponymous Miss Pettigrew (McDormand) is an out-of-work governess who, in a fit of desperation, finagles her way into a job as “social secretary” for a madcap young actress named Delysia Lafosse (Adams). Charmingly ditzy and frantically ambitious, Delysia is juggling no fewer than three lovers—nightclub owner Nick (Mark Strong), fledgling theatrical producer Phil (Tom Payne), and cabaret pianist Michael (Lee Pace). Pettigrew’s uncharacteristically earthy ministrations on behalf of her new employer put a new bloom on a previously staid and gloomy character and leads her as well into the company of two quarrelsome fashionistas, Edythe (Shirley Henderson) and Joe (Ciarán Hinds), with the latter taking increasingly special interest in her. It’s all a bit brittle and even a little campy in the end, but the two stars more than carry the day, entertainment-wise.