Making the Grades
On the eve of World War II, Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) finds herself dismissed from her job... again. Her outspoken and hardly magnetic personality are parts of the reason why her placement agency is now telling the out-of-work governess there is nowhere else for her to go. However, after spending the night on the streets of London, the frumpy, frustrated woman is desperate for a new situation. Gleaning a name and phone number from the desk of her employment specialist (Stephanie Cole), Miss Pettigrew heads out to intercept a position before her former boss can send a new recruit.
Arriving at the door of the indicated address, she meets Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), an aspiring American actress who is thrilled her new social secretary has arrived. Immediately Miss Pettigrew is pulled into a whirlwind of entanglements -- not the least of which is her instructions to get Phillip (Tom Payne) up and out of bed. Expecting to put her child rearing expertise to use, the bossy babysitter heads upstairs and pulls back the blankets only to uncover a naked man (whom we see from behind).
As it turns out, Phillip is an impresario and just one of three men in Delysia's life. Trying to decide which opportunity to seize, the ambitious blonde is delicately juggling Phillip's connections in the acting world with the possibility of singing in a snazzy nightclub owned by Nick (Mark Strong) -- the man paying the rent on the apartment where she is staying, or the chance to simply fall in love with a pianist named Michael (Lee Pace) who is sailing to the United States in the morning.
Amazingly, the sexy socialite has managed to keep this trio of men unaware they each share affections for the same woman. But on this fateful day all is about to be revealed. And Miss Pettigrew, who has unwittingly landed in the middle of Delysia's dilemma, will also find her own life altered -- especially after she meets a successful lingerie designer (Claran Hinds). Yet as the masquerade wears on, the former nanny becomes increasingly insecure about her new social position and what may happen if she tells the truth to her newfound love.
This feathery comedy is intended to be a fluffy romp headed for a happily ever after ending. However, there are several content issues that may not tickle parents' funny bones. Although there are few profanities, we are privy to innuendos, violent acts (some punches are exchanged) and many portrayals of smoking in this period movie. Even more concerning is the levity with which the flighty female protagonists lie about themselves and make quick emotional decisions regarding long-term relationships. While the movie depicts dishonesty and irresponsible sexual behavior without consequences, astute viewers are sure to wonder if Miss Pettigrew may live for a day, only to awake with regret on the many tomorrows sure to follow.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.
In the film, Miss Pettigrew and Joe, who are two oldest characters portrayed, discuss the impending war and how their younger friends, “Don’t remember the last one.” How does life experience change a person’s point of view? What role does perspective play in the different ways people may react to the same situation? Can these various outlooks be helpful in maintaining a balanced society?