Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back to the 30s

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was recommended (by M. Monkey, my other fan) as a romantic comedy for adults. That and Ms. Frances McDormand in a leading role were enough for me.

It takes place in England just before WWII. McDormand is a governess who has lost her position. In fact she has lost everything, and is starving to boot. Her only chance is a position as social secretary with Amy Adams, a flighty actress with a complex social life, involving a naked man in bed, the man who's keeping her showing up and an old flame just getting out of prison.  McDormand is a woman of morals and propriety, but she is determined not to starve so she makes herself indispensable to Adams.

She is rewarded with a peek at the luxurious life lived by the other kind of woman. And even though she may still starve, she does meet an interesting gentleman who designs women's undergarments.

We get a nice mix of near-screwball comedy of manners and something a little more serious, as England is on the brink of war. The script doesn't talk down to us, and it is both fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, the whole thing has the feel of a good BBC TV production - The lingerie specialist, for example, seems to want to be  Jeremy Brett or a Stephen Fry. Nothing wrong with these BBC productions - some are very good. But I feel like we should get something a little more in a feature film.

I guess you could call this a Small Film - not ambitious, it does what it sets out to do. Needless to say, McDormand inhabits her role effortlessly. But I am reminded of the famously boring headline "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative". I'm afraid this film is something like a "Worthwhile 1930s Comedy".

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