Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Out Now On-Demand

In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a middle-aged governess who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Without so much as a redundancy package, Miss Pettigrew realizes that this is a perfect opportunity for her to get out there and live her life ‘to the max’.

She takes a job outside of her comfort level - as a ‘social secretary’. Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the dizzyingly glamorous world of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Enchanted’s Amy Adams).

Within minutes, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into a high-society lifestyle in which Delysia is seeing three men; 1) devoted pianist Michael, 2) intimidating nightclub owner Nick, and 3) impressionable junior impresario Phil.

Miss Pettigrew herself is drawn to the gallant Joe (There Will Be Blood’s Ciarán Hinds), a successful designer who is tenuously engaged to haughty fashion meanie Edythe - the one person who senses that the new ‘social secretary’ may be out of her element, and schemes to undermine her.


Directed by

Written by

Comedy, Drama


Rating: PG infrequent mild violence and sexual references.


Official Site

A homage and love letter to the screwball comedies of the 1930s, Miss Pettigrew tells the tale of Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), a stuffy, jobless nanny on the breadline who worms her way into a job interview with Delyssia (Amy Adams), a ditzy good times girl with showbiz aspirations. Delyssia takes her on as a 'social secretary', but Guinevere’s duties ending up being entirely concerned with cleaning up Delyssia's messy love life. Soon enough, Guinevere’s romantic situation comes into the spotlight as well.

Screwball comedies essentially set the blueprint for the modern rom-com, except the emphasis on dialogue was greater. Miss Pettigrew misses the mark on this front, with the dialogue not having the brisk speed of delivery or laugh out loud moments of its predecessors. The script is further hampered by trying to fit a very busy plot with multiple romances into a 24-hour time frame, which at times makes buying into the narrative’s credibility too big a leap of faith.

Though the script may be weak, the film compensates in plenty of other areas. McDormand and Adams are both fantastic, cementing their reputations as being amongst the best actresses working today. The screwball homage forces them into working an outdated style that is over-the-top and heavily theatrical, but they are still able to bring a genuine human touch to the roles. The roles fit them like a glove.

The art direction and costumes are another high point, perfectly expressing the opulence and decadence of 1930s London high society. It may seem early to talk about it, but both categories are worthy of Oscar nominations and maybe even snagging a statuette. Underpinning all this is a big band jazz score that expertly crystallizes the time, place and tone of the story.

With a smarter, wittier script, Miss Pettigrew could have been something really special as all the other elements are already in place. Still, it is doing something unique in the romantic comedy genre, which is a big plus in what is probably cinema's most predictable style.

Empire Magazine [Australia]


An ultra-light screwball comedy with enough charm ot make Miss Pettigrew live for at least a second viewing.

FilmThreat.com [USA]


1/2 It's unique how an historical setting like this one – even with a German Blitz expected at any moment – can yield the lightest stories. Think of Woody's “Bullets Over Broadway” and Frears' more recent “Miss Henderson Presents” – earlier times call for nostalgic tones, in which we can indulge in the simple joys of hopefuls falling in and out of love. “Miss Pettigrew” plays like a breeze and ends before we know it. In the current state of cinema, all we can hope for is one like this per year.

New York Times


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.

NZ Herald [Francesca Rudkin]


Oscar award-winner Frances McDormand and nominee Amy Adams are responsible for making this adaptation of Winifred Watson's novel a delightful and charming experience.

The Press [Margaret Agnew]


1/2 Based on a novel by Winifred Watson and directed by award-winning TV director Bharat Nalluri, it's not the deepest or most serious plot, but it's a whole lot of old-timey, screwball comedy fun. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the perfect romantic-comedy romp to take your mum or gran to.

Urban Cinefile [Australia]


It's a charming film that's as light and welcome, as a breeze, delivering its message without heavy-handedness.

Variety [USA]


McDormand's performance slowly builds a solid integrity, and contrasts well with Adams' more flamboyant turn.