Photo: Amy Adams and Frances McDormand in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.
It’s started raining so now it’s infernal and muggy. In this weather I try to avoid anything that may cause my brain to overheat. My reading and viewing diet is restricted to light comedies set in cold climates.
I should’ve saved my Stalingrad books for this summerâ€”reading about limbs falling off from frostbite and armies freezing to death might bring some relief. (No thank you, not in the mood for War and Peace.) Butch saw Lav Diaz recently, and confirmed that Lav was named after Lavrenty Beria, Joseph ‘Koba’ Stalin’s dreaded enforcerâ€”who looked exactly like the British actor Bob Hoskinsâ€”who carried out the massive purge that killed 9 million people. After Stalin’s death, Beria was himself purged. He is said to have poisoned Stalin. At least Lavrente Diaz only makes us sit for 11 hours. His new movie is only 3 hours longâ€”a music video by Lav standards.
So I’ve been rereading P.G. Wodehouse and watching lots of romantic comedies. In most rom-coms the girl is the hero and the male lead is the non-threatening object of her affections. I guess if the guy is a real match for the girl it becomes a drama or a thriller.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Cute. Nick (Michael Cera) is dumped by manipulative teen seductress Tris, but continues to leave mix CDs on her doorstep (Road to Closure, Vol. 12. The last time I made a mix CD for anyone was. . .that recent?). Then Norah (Kat Dennings) appears and sweeps him off his feet.
Definitely, Maybe – Charming. Ryan Reynolds the ultimate non-menacing male is a man-boy reliving his romances with three women (Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz) who are all tougher than he is.
Easy Virtue – Embarrassing and execrable. Allegedly based on a Noel Coward; the estate should sue. Ben Barnes is a young Brit aristocrat who marries American race car driver Jessica Biel after whirlwind romance and takes her home to disapproving mummy in the manor. Biel dismally miscast; rom-com goes over like a lead balloon. Kristin Scott Thomas is usually exquisite but she’s made to play a one-note shrew.
Here’s something to cool you off: Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, a comedy with screwball aspirations, directed by Bharat Nalluri.
Amy Adams and Lee Pace
It’s based on a 1938 bestseller by Winifred Watson (long out of print but reissued recently). Miss Pettigrew is set in London at the outbreak of WWII and stars Frances McDormand as the title character, an unemployed governess who in her desperation pretends to be the social secretary hired by dizzy American starlet Delysia Lafosse. Amy Adams, our favorite actress since Enchanted (She made us enjoy a Disney princess musical!), plays Delysia, who is juggling three menâ€”a thuggish nightclub owner, a penniless pianist, and the son of a big West End producer.
Adams is brilliant: as Ricky puts it, she’s not that pretty, but she makes us believe that three guys would fight over her. Leo adds that she plays a ditzy floozy but manages to seem pure and innocent. That’s a quality that’s been mostly missing from the movies since the great screwball comedies of the 1930s. (See Carole Lombard. Nicole Kidman can do screwball comedy but she’s too tall.)
The very proper Miss Pettigrew brings order to Delysia’s chaotic life while getting a life herself. Of course it’s not like real lifeâ€”it’s improbable and charming and everything looks wonderful. Light and frothy is exactly what we need to survive this summer.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is showing at the Ayala Cinemas. Go.