Story

Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is the morally virtuous middle-aged daughter of a country vicar. She recently has lost her position as governess. Like many others in late 1930s London, she finds herself destitute. She pleads with the employment agency to give her another job, but is refused. While waiting in the office, she overhears that Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) – actress, singer and socialite – requires a personal assistant. The desperate and resourceful Miss Pettigrew jumps at the opportunity and bluffs her way into the position.

The job is more challenging than it first appears. Delysia has a very complicated love life, involving three very different men. Young wealthy Phil (Tom Payne), son of a famous theatre producer, is besotted with Delysia, who is using him to get a lead role in a musical. The older, wealthy Nick (Mark Strong) is a nightclub owner with a wandering eye who ‘keeps’ Delysia in his apartment and provides her with a home and a job. Mike (Lee Pace), freshly released from jail for an incident which occurred during his proposal to Delysia, is a young and handsome pianist who is poor and can offer Delysia only true love.

Against all her moral inclinations, Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia maintain the facade of her idyllic lifestyle. Both women realise that their situations are more similar than it would first appear, with both clinging on to others for their very survival. Through their experiences over a day, they are both transformed.

Themes

Homelessness and poverty; deception; infidelity

Violence

There is some violence in this movie including a scene in which Mike and Nick exchange a few punches, but recover quickly. The fight is shown in a comic light.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

  • After losing her job, home and clothes, Miss Pettigrew is shown alone and hungry on the streets of London at night. She is forced to sleep at a railway station. This might be scary for younger viewers.
  • There are a few air raid drills, with sirens and people running for cover and appearing scared.

From 8-13

Some children in this age group could also be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

  • There is a scene of sexual innuendo when Miss Pettigrew mistakenly thinks Delysia has a young child sleeping in her room. After discovering it is in fact the naked Phil, she tells Delysia that he was a ‘much bigger boy’ than she expected. Delysia responds to this by saying ‘Oh, you noticed’.
  • When Nick returns home, he clearly wishes Miss Pettigrew to leave so that he can take Delysia to his bedroom. He is thwarted in his attempts.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

  • Miss Pettigrew smokes a cigar as part of an act to convince Nick of her character. She doesn’t enjoy the experience.
  • At a cocktail party, Delysia and Miss Pettigrew both drink several cocktails and become slightly drunk.
  • Some of the male characters smoke cigarettes.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Phil is shown asleep and naked in Delysia’s bed. He is  shown only from behind, so only his back and bottom are seen.
  • Delysia enters the room to get Phil out of the apartment. Phil, who is still naked, pulls her into the bed and starts to kiss her. This alarms Miss Pettigrew, who happens to be present, and nothing further happens. Phil later jumps out of bed, but is only seen nude from the side.
  • When Delysia gets changed, her bare back is shown.
  • In other scenes, Delysia is seen walking around the apartment in underwear.
  • Delysia steps out of the bath revealling her naked back.

Product placement

None

Coarse language 

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a romantic comedy. Young children might find the themes dull. Older children, particularly girls, adolescents and adults, might enjoy the attractive protagonists, costumes and the quality of the production.

You might like to talk about some of the values presented in this movie. These include:

  • loyalty and true friendships
  • resourcefulness and persistence in tough times
  • living by good core values
  • the idea that love is not a game. 

You could also discuss what your family values are in relation to sexual promiscuity and infidelity, blackmail and doing anything for the sake of money and security.