Most Romantic Moment #13
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)
This film takes place shortly before the “official” start of WWII in London, England. The film is based on the novel of the same name, published in 1938
Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is a governess/nanny, who has quite some trouble keeping a job. At the start of the film she is fired and denied her pay. She bumps into a young man who mentions he has just been released from prison and flees from him, leaving her luggage behind. She heads to a soup line, but gets bumped into again and loses her meal. This noise attracts the attention of a fashionably dressed couple from across the way
The next day Miss Pettigrew heads over to the employment agency where she learns that after her last firing, she has run out of chances. While she is pleading, the phones rings and a Delysia Lafosse asks for a person to be sent over. While the people at the employment agency are distracted, Miss Pettigrew takes off with the address in hopes of getting the job.
When she reaches Delysia Lafosse’s apartment, she finds an undressed, half-asleep woman (Amy Adams). After Miss Pettigrew introdices herself and tells her what time it is, Delysia gets freaked out as she has to have the entire apartment cleaned up, with Phil up and out of there. Miss Pettigrew tells her she will help get her little boy out, only to discover that Phil is not a little boy, but one of Delysia’s boyfriends. You see Delysia wasn’t asking for a governess, but she needed a social secretary. Anyways, Delysia is sleeping with Phil in order to get the part in the musical he is producing and her big chance to become a real star. The only problem? Delysia’s other boyfriend, boss, and the man paying for her clothes, food, and apartment; Nick is on his way and will NOT be happy if he finds Delysia with another man. With the help of Miss Pettigrew Phil is out the door, and shortly Nick is bumped out too.
Then the two head off to a fashion show where Delysia’s friend, Edythe Dubarry, is showing some pieces. Edythe is dating the famous underclothing designer, Joe Blomfield (Ciarán Hinds). Edythe and Joe are on the outs as Joe thinks Edythe is cheating on him as she was out when he called her the night before. Miss Pettigrew realizes that Edythe is the same woman she saw the night before, carrying on with a man that was clearly not Joe. Joe and Miss Pettigrew also meet and talk, with Miss Pettigrew deveoping a slight crush on him. Then Miss Pettigrew is whisked away by the girls for a complete makeover.
While shopping, Edythe recognizes Miss Pettigrew from the soup line and knows Miss Pettigrew saw her with another man. She blackmails Miss Pettigrew into helping her get Joe back or else she’ll tell Delysia the truth about her being a “social secretary”.
When the girls finish shopping, Miss Pettigrew and Delysia return to Delysia’s apartment. There they find a young man playing the piano. It turns out to be the same man recently released from prison that ran into Miss Pettigrew the day before. His name is Michael and he plays the piano in Nick’s club, accompanying Delysia, the singer. You see Michael is her third boyfriend. Unlike Nick who uses her for sex, and boy Phil who has never had the attentions of a woman before; Michael is in love with Delysia. He planned this big romantic scene on a boat in the river Thames, equipped with champagne and a ring to propose. Delysia never showed up, so Michael drank all the Champagne himself, got drunk, tried to steal the crown jewels; and was arrested and thrown in prison. Michael is planning on leaving for America and wants Delysia to marry him and come with. Delysia is unsure as she wants more than Michael can give her. Miss Pettigrew tells him that Delysia will have an answer by the end of the night.
That night holds a lot for them as Delysia has the announcement of the casting of the musical to worry over and how to handle young Phil. What to do about Nick as he is expecting payment for all the things he buys her. And whether or not to go off with Michael, the man who loves her but is poor. For Miss Pettigrew she has to help Delysia get the part in the musical, keep Nick at bay, encourage Delysia to make the right decision involving love, get Joe and Edythe back together, and figure out just what her role as social secretary really is.
***Most Romantic Moment***
One of the most romantic moments for me comes near the end of the film. Delysia has just won the lead in the musical, but had to declare her undying love to Phil to guarantee it. Nick understands, but still expects to get his payment from her. Michael, after hearing Phil shout his and Delysia’s undying love, is leaving to America, never to see her again. Everything in Delysia’s life is going as planned but yet, completely wrong. Just then the city is warned to take cover from an air attack. As Delysia is hiding under the piano she and Miss Pettigrew discuss love, Miss Pettigrew telling her about the man she loved but lost in WWI. They had nothing really, but to Miss Pettigrew their love was more than enough to build a life on. This encourages Delysia, and as soon as it’s safe she rushes toward Michael to tell him how she feels.
As she is running after him, Nick stops her and tells her to sing. Michael comes to her rescue, but Nick is a better fighter and knocks him down.
While Michael is recovering from that great hook, Delysia rushes over to him and proposes!
Delysia: Is the offer still open?
Nick: Get up!
[Michael stands and Nick knocks him back down with a punch to the nose]
Delysia: Well, is it a yes or is it a no?
Delysia: Well will you doggone marry me or will you doggone not?
Michael: [he grins in delight, scrambles up, socks Nick square in the jaw, and pulls Delysia to her feet] Yes. God help me, yes! [they kiss fervently]
I love this scene because Delysia asking Michael to marry her showed him that she really, truly, completly loved him and wanted to be with him. Plus it gives him the strength to knock Nick out of the way.
Yep it’s not the money that matters, but the man.
To start Romance is in the Air: Part III from the beginning, go to I Can See Your Beauty: The Breakfast Club (1985)
For the previous post, go to I Don’t Want to Own You, I Just Want to Be With You: A Room With a View (1985)
For more on Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, go to Part VIII: The Little Movie Line List
For more on Amy Adams, go to I Don’t Dance or Sing, Except When I’m With You: Enchanted (2007)
For more on Ciaran Hinds, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen
For more films based on a book, go to What a Fanatic!
For more period piece films, go to Beast or Man: The Wolfman (2010)
For more of my favorite quotes, go to Marry Me: Gigi (1958)