The flirtatious Delysia
is caught in a love polygon with the poor “Mr. Right”,
Michael (Lee Pace), the demanding and stern Nick (Mark Strong) and
the Tom Jones party animal Phil (Tom Payne). “Men are so untrusting.
I can’t think why,” she casually mentions. Delysia is
a whimsical and weak social climber who doesn’t know what
she wants, but craftily uses her innocent eyes and curvaceous figure
to always stay in the high-class circle. Amy Adams is always delightful
to watch in a role that mirrors the playful ignorance of her character
in Disney’s Enchanted, but her static immaturity only soaks
up laughs at the beginning.
Frances McDormand excellently portrays the relationship-doctor
Pettigrew, a strong lead that we feel constantly makes the right
decisions, even when they initially go astray. She’s down-and-out
and on the wrong side of luck, even though at the outset it appears
that her inability to cope with her clients’ quirks is purely
her fault. First appearing disheveled and as “Oliver Twist’s
mom” as described by the fashionable Delysia, Guinevere
undergoes quite a flattering transformation that allows her to
momentarily fit in with her wealthy employer. But her good-natured
and humble soul is not as easily disguised, drawing attention
by the insincere conflict Edythe (Shirley Henderson) who is out
to blackmail her, and the reasonable Joe (Ciaran Hinds from There
Will Be Blood) who is attracted to her uncommon real-woman genuineness.
“Love is not a game”, she cries. Unfortunately in
this film, it is.
All of the characters in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day are about
as unrealistic as the whimsical Giselle, the cheery role Amy Adams
played in last year’s Enchanted. It may be set during uncertain
times, but each of the light-hearted characters dances about as
if this were a gay musical. Miss Pettigrew herself is only partially
grounded in reality, and even her offbeat success with romance
is more than the average adult could bear. During the fluttery
conclusion, everyone’s true emotions come pouring out during
a sad song, and this unlikely rehash of Amelie drops most of its
charm. Even with the old-fashioned “The End” splashed
onto the screen, Miss Pettigrew is anything but unpredictable.
- Mike Massie