Sunday, May 13, 2012

Underrated Showcase Sundays: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

A movie that I love dearly, and have seen at least 20/30 times by now is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Surprisingly, very few people have seen this 1930's set comedy starring Frances McDormand as a down on her luck governess and Amy Adams as a budding starlet who takes her under her wing. It is a fairly basic comedy set over the course of a day as Gunievere Pettigrew (McDormand) helps Delysia LaFosse (Adams) deal with her three boyfriends: the naive stage producer Phil (Tom Payne), who she's only with to ensure she gets a part in his next production; the smarmy nightclub owner Nick (the ever brilliant Mark Strong) who owns the apartment she resides in; and Michael (Lee Pace), her piano player, who has just come out of prison and wants her to go to New York with him. There are a few clichés here and there, but the film culminates in such a beautiful way that you can't help but fall in love with it. And it is only fitting to highlight this scene since we've been analysing (and jeez do I hate analysing things) The Shawshank Redemption in class and both that film and this film use the song 'If I Didn't Care' - a song which has been stuck in my head for days now. I know The Shawshank Redemption may be the best film ever made (and it is a fantastic film), but I think Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day uses the song better. Anyway, there are a few spoilers here (since this is one of the last scenes of the film), but I needed it on my blog. Go watch the film now, if you haven't!

Let's just set the scene...Delysia is standing, waiting to go on stage, and awkwardness in the form of Michael, who she rejected an hour or so ago, has just walked in. The two are going to be performing together, so she's obviously worried about what's going to happen.

Our smarmy Nick. Mark Strong is perfection.

There's that forced, "I-wanna-be-a-star" smile that Delysia often plasters across her face.

"Hello Michael, how was prison?"
"Change of program: 'If I Didn't Care'"

Though she's hesitant to sing such a soulful song, she plasters on that forced smile, and goes ahead with it anyway.

This is the first time Miss Pettigrew has actually heard Delysia sing. I guess her smile is because she's relieved that Delysia actually has talent and her day hasn't been a total waste.

Haha, he didn't get his "Hot Shoe Shimmy".

There's Phil being as naive as ever, with Charlotte Warren (Delysia's competition and obviously Phil's 'true love') coming into focus.

Manipulative Edythe (Shirley Henderson) checks on her 'fiancée' Joe (Ciaran Hinds), and the next shot shows him looking at Miss Pettigrew, who is enthralled in Delysia's performance. Music brings people together, y'all.

I love how in this next verse Delysia's façade drops and she realises that the lyrics are commentating on how she feels about Michael. It may be cliched stuff, but Amy Adams plays it so perfectly, with her voice wavering over these lyrics:
If I didn't care would it be the same?
Would my every prayer begin and end with just your name?
And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare?
Would all this be true if I didn't care for you?

...and then, in one of the most beautiful moments ever, Michael starts singing along with her. Lee Pace is perfection.

After that reassurance that Michael, despite his flaws, is the only man that will ever treat Delysia in the right way, she finds the courage to start singing again.

Delysia chokes on the line "And would I be sure that this is love beyond compare", letting out a piercing sound which jolts Miss Pettigrew.

She composes herself for the last few words, and the song ends in silence.

Delysia and Michael look at each other while the audience sits in silence. It's fairly obvious that they've both come to terms with how they feel about each other and you just want to jump into the screen and drag them together.

Miss Pettigrew, overcome with emotion and unable to bear the silence any longer, breaks out with applause, with everyone else following.

The two, both relieved of that horrible silence, finally smile at each other, before being interrupted by an air raid siren.

And that, my friends, is how you resolve a romantic comedy - with a beautiful song. But only if you have great actors like Amy Adams and Lee Pace. So no, New Year's Eve, your little stint with a song didn't really work out that well.

What I got:


  1. I saw this film recently and loved it. It's adorbs. Also this song was definitely the best part of it. Lee Pace IS perfection. The part when he starts singing, his voice gives me goosebumps, and earthquakes :P

    1. It is totes adorbs. When Lee Pace starts singing, every time I'm like "OMG!!!!!"

  2. I saw it a while ago and remember nothing. As usually, my movie memory fails me. I actually have it on DVD, so my goal is to re-watch it someday. Besides, when I saw it then, I didn't know who McDormand was... just imagine that. So it's definitely a revisit for me. Thanks for the post.

    1. Haha, you didn't know who McDormand was? I don't think I did, either. I mean, I'd heard of her, but for some reason or another I kept getting her mixed up with someone else. Definitely give it a rewatch, though!

  3. Haha was that the song playing on the radio in the start scene of "The Shawshank Redemption" when Andy's loading his gun? I remember when Mr Carr grilled us on that!!!!! Man feels like a long time ago now....
    And that does sound like a much better use of that song....not that I've seen the film or anything, but it sounds good. Most movies you reccomend are!

    1. Yes it is! He's shown that scene to us like seven times and the song kept getting stuck in my head...hence this post!

  4. You just made me remember how much I like this movie. I remember that I have low expectations on it, but it turned out to be a wonderful movie. Nice images, Amy Adams and Frances McDormand were excellent in it.

    1. It is a wonderful movie! And yes, Adams and McDormand were really good in it!

  5. I remember liking this one. And personally the reason i avoid most hollywood rom-coms isn't because of the actors/actress in them, they just look bad to me.

    1. I still watch most of the rom-coms because they're really easy to watch. And most of them are bad, but oh well.

  6. LOVE this movie! It's uncanny that I just typed in this title in My Film Views' post on Frances McDormand literally minutes before I saunter over here. I just LOVE Lee Pace here, I don't know WHY he isn't as big a star yet being how gorgeous and talented he is.

    1. Haha, what a coincidence! And I don't know why Lee Pace isn't a big star yet. He was so good in this, and The Fall!

  7. Hello, I am the only son of the author of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and I would just like to say how very much I appreciate your comments regarding the film. My mother believed in good men and wrote her heroes accordingly. Hope you watch the film - and read the book - many more times.

    Very best wishes,

    Keith Pickering


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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