Sunday, 24 August 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day Review

There are a few problems with realism when setting a film in the space of a solitary 24 hour period. First up if you're introducing characters to each other for the first time their connection can't be too strong, unless you believe in that 'love at first sight' bullshit (like I do!). Secondly you can't pack too much incident in (see Jack Bauer's hectic 'real' time life) without it all seeming a little co-inkidinkily. Lastly its hard to wrap everything up all neat and tidy without forcing it. But saying all that I'm talking out of my arse because the list of quality films set within a single day is extensive. Before Sunset, Dr. Strangelove, Clerks, Falling Down all work in spite of these things. And so does Miss Pettigrew. In a way.

Set in pre WWII London, Miss Pettigrew tells the tale of Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) a pompous down on her luck governess who never says Yes to anything. Her life is awoken when she meets up with naive, free-spirited, actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) who conversely finds it difficult to say No to anything. As Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia decide which of her three beaus to pick she begins to loosen up and live and maybe find a little love for herself. At least for a day.

Don't be surprised to see either Frances or Amy's name come up around awards season. Not that this is a particularly worthy film, or even that their performances are anywhere near exceptional. No its just that there are so few decent roles for actresses that fare like this is likely to pop back up around January saying "Look everyone, we do make films for Girls!" In spite of that incredibly sexist notion both women do deserve high praise indeed. Each lending their characters a different type of fragility.

This particular trait means both are adorable in their own way despite their conflicting morals (nun Vs slut, bore Vs fun). Frances all uptight yet vulnerable and Amy doing her best Marilyn, all breathy and eyes fluttering. She gets away with it because of her unique looking face and the fact that she can bang out a tune certainly helps. While the film as a whole could do with a little Talented Mr.Ripley style darkness to give it at least a little drama that might put a few of the silver hairs in ambulances and that would be really annoying because I'd have to stop the film and that would cut into my valuable sitting around time. So we'll leave it as a frothy, jazzy piece of entertaining but instantly forgettable fun.

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