WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Set in 1939 Britain on the eve of the Second World War, a middle-aged governess, Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is fired from her job and ends up cold and hungry in the streets of London.
When her employment agency refuses to offer her a new job, she steals a card of a Delysia Lafosse (Amy adams), to whom she presents her self as a social secretary.
Delysia Lafosse is a flighty but ambitious American actress, desperate enough to sleep her way to the top. Miss Pettigrew finds a man in her bed, Phil (Tom Payne), a producer who is about to cast her in his next musical, and soon learns that Delysia’s lavish penthouse belongs to another man, Nick (Mark Strong), the owner of the nightclub where Delysia sings. And Nick is in his way up to the penthouse.
Pettigrew skillfully extricates Delysia from this predicament and gains Delysia’s trust and appreciation. For the next 24 hours, she does wonders to Delysia’s life, providing advice and comfort that leads her to a true Love with her besotted Pianist Michael (Lee Pace).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I watched this movie with a group of over-70’s audience, who giggled and cheered from beginning to end, while I was spinning in my seat aching for the rolling titles.
This is a fluffy comedy, where men and women trade quips, but it won’t make everyone laugh. The director tries to invoke comedy by speeding up the pace in the beginning when Pettigrew meets Delysia, which works to some extent and evokes delightful moments, but then later the pace slows down unbearably and looses its momentum. And the ominous sounds of the Nazi bombers circling over London don’t inject any new energy into the dying story.
It’s not all doom and gloom, the director and his production designers have impressively recreated the 1939 London, with the gowns, the tuxedos, the cocktail shakers, the ladies silk underwear, the taxicab, the ornate spacious flats, the bathrooms and the dance floors. If you lived in that period, like my fellow audience members, then it will conjure up some nostalgic images and perhaps fun memories.
In spite of the messy script and irritating characters, Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Tom Payne, Shirley Henderson and the rest of the cast do their best to keep the story alive. But you also get the feeling that McDormand looks more like the no-nonsense officer from Fargo and Adams like the princes from “Enchanted”.