31 Mar 2010

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

I am in love with the film Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. There's every chance my friends are sick of me talking about it. My love of Michael led me to look up other things Lee Pace had done which introduced to me Pushing Daisies, another awesome thing filled with beautiful costumes.

I was going to post a review about the film, but Genevieve Valentine had already done one and done it so much better than I could've so I've plagarised and snipped terribly at her review and added my own bits, all posted below (original linked above):

There is not even a pretense of objectivity here, this movie is amazing. It’s like the director woke up one morning and said, “I’m going to recruit a bunch of character actors from Awesome (Sorta-)British Actor Camp and slap them in ’30s England and let them all have happy endings. Every single one of them.” This has not happened since Cold Comfort Farm. IT WAS ABOUT TIME.

There could not be any more spoilers below, so be warned!

Nutshell: Miss Pettigrew, an unemployed governess, accidentally becomes social secretary to American nightclub singer Delysia Lafosse. They hit the town with a bunch of adorable people, run around for a day putting on awesome dresses, and get happy endings. It is not Rashomon, is what I’m saying. It is awesome, is what I’m saying.

Miss Pettigrew is unemployed, alone, and starving (an ongoing motif of the movie is her trying to get a bite to eat, which is just sad). So she does what any awesome person would do; she steals a business card from her employment agency and offers herself as governess to Delysia Lafosse.

This is Delysia:

Delysia is kind of having a day.

Turns out she’s got a 19-year-old theatre producer in bed, her mean-spirited sugar daddy on his way up the stairs, and a piano player carrying a torch for her. She wants the lead in Pile On the Pepper, she wants her job singing in the club, and she wants Lee Pace to make out with her ASAP (but then, who doesn't?). So Miss Pettigrew shifts into best-friend duty, and over the course of the day the woman run from one awesome appointment to another, and reveal more and more about themselves as they wear more and more amazing vintage dresses.

To pretend there’s a plot, Delysia tries to play everyone against the middle except Miss Pettigrew, but this movie knows that each lady will end up with the guy who loves her, and does not even mess with you about it. The sad moments in this movie are when people talk about their lonely pasts; the present is nothing but tailoring and jazz music!

Look, I understand that some people might not be excited by movies where major plot points include “Going To The Lingerie Show,” but I totally am, because look at this shot:

The ladies in tunics on the stage are living statues who point dramatically at the lingerie, at wall sconces, at whatever the hell they feel like. You do NOT tell the Greek statue ladies where to point, okay?

Anyway, the cast is pitch-perfect; newcomer Tom Payne as the adorably clueless producer Phil manages to be a total jerk without actually making you hate him. Nice job, kid.

Then you have the always-fantastic Ciaran Hinds as Joe Blumfield, lingerie designer and love interest, which should need no further explanation, because he’s Ciaran Hinds.

Lee Pace is Michael, piano-playing romantic who wants to carry Delysia away from jerky overlord-boyfriend Nick (Mark Strong! He does not fool anyone trying to act like a dickhead, but it’s sweet to see him try!). Michael’s booked two tickets on the Queen Mary! Is Delysia in or out? I mean, you know, it’s Lee Pace. He’s tallest. Naturally it’s him.

I love Michael mostly because when we meet him properly, we get to see the real Delysia for the first time.

Plus, he burns up Miss Pettigrew’s underpants with all his romantic gesturing, which is hilarious for Frances McDormand.

Fun fact: This was my first introduction to Lee Pace and I had no idea he was American! I thought he was a Northerner trying to do a Proper British accent. Just goes to show! Since this film I have reluctantly added him to my list of TV-Boyfriends (others include Callum Keith Rennie, Ewan McGregor and David Tennant in case you were wondering).

Interestingly, in a reversal of the norm, the women are the main characters; each dude has three scenes max, often in large crowds where their moments are fleeting, to be as alluring or intimidating as needed. Just throwing that out there.

The movie is basically impeccable. Ciaran Hinds, however, is no American TV star. He is a trained theatre actor.

(My heart!)

My favorite romantic subplot is when Miss Pettigrew and Joe meet up over the course of the day, bond over their shared experiences in the war, and are just generally a couple of cool cats. It’s unspeakably refreshing to see a romantic subplot with a woman over 30, and Frances and Ciaran beautifully understate a romance that takes one day to bloom but feels like it will last. It sounds nuts, but you’ll believe it, I promise, they’re all very good!

By evening he’s enough in love that he asks her to dance, which she’s uncomfortable about because he escorted another woman to the club (Miss Pettigrew is sorta adorable), and also she’s all warm for his form and can’t admit it (double adorable).


Since Miss Pettigrew has an advanced degree in ass-kicking (with a minor in name-taking), she soon gets Delysia to admit what Delysia’s known all along, and then Lee Pace gets to punch Mark Strong for a while, and then Delysia commits to the man she loves, who loves her for who she is. Win-win-win!


Phew! Take a breath and calm down.

Let’s talk about the costumes for a moment, shall we?

Glad we had this talk.

In the end, aside from the happy-ending romantic storylines, this movie is a friendship between a woman who has never been loved and a young woman who wants to be loved for who she is; it’s a strangely bittersweet story about living on the edge of hard times, and getting strength from the people who change our lives no matter how little time they spend in it.


So, I tried to find a trailer that makes this movie look good, and they all did a really shitty job, so instead here’s the declaration-of-love scene in which Amy Adams sings “If I Didn’t Care” while delivering a stunning performance of a woman who lives on artifice slowly dropping her guard and freaking out about it. Meanwhile, Frances McDormand acts her ass off, Mark Strong makes Frownyface, Tom Payne makes a LOLtacular expression, and Lee Pace pretends to play some heartbroken piano.


Photos © Genevieve Valentine

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