In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as severance pay, Miss Pettigrew realizes that she must–for the first time in two decades–seize the day. This she does, by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level–asIn 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as severance pay, Miss Pettigrew realizes that she must–for the first time in two decades–seize the day. This she does, by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level–as “social secretary.” Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse. Within minutes, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into a heady high-society milieu–and, within hours, living it up. Taking the “social secretary” designation to heart, she tries to help her new friend Delysia navigate a love life and career, both of which are complicated by the three men in Delysia’s orbit: devoted pianist Michael, intimidating nightclub owner Nick, and impressionable junior impresario Phil. Miss Pettigrew herself is blushingly drawn to the gallant Joe, a successful designer who is tenuously engaged to haughty fashion maven Edythe, the one person who senses that the new “social secretary” may be out of her element and schemes to undermine her.
During the next 24 hours, Guinevere and Delysia will empower one another to discover their romantic destinies. (Focus Features)
Frothy and exuberantly entertaining – in part because of the sexual innuendoes – it’s the best romantic comedy so far this year.
It’s an unusual and engaging romantic comedy because it’s mostly about how these women ready each other for real love.
Style is a tricky, elusive thing, and this film doesn’t so much have it as strive for it, constantly. But something in Watson’s story endures: The wish-fulfillment truly satisfies. And with the war clouds gathering by story’s end, the fairy tale acquires
How light is this movie? So buoyant that even an air raid warning, signaling that this whole world is about to crumble under the blitz, can’t dampen its giddy spirits.
The film is lovely to look at — so overflowing with lavish furniture, jewelry and interiors that it’s almost like a visit to Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs. If you’re a fan of such things, “Pettigrew” is worth seeing solely for its sets.
In trying to recapture the spirit of classic ’30s screwball comedies, the film too often mistakes manic energy for wit, and it ends on a note of gloppy sentimentality that wouldn’t have held water in Old Hollywood.
At least Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day has the good grace to go wrong quickly, you don’t have to sit there squirming with doubt.