MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY Directed by Bharat Nalluri. 92 minutes. Opens Friday (March 7). Rating: NN
Blame Gwyneth Paltrow. She faked an English accent for Shakespeare In Love and got an Oscar.
Or maybe we can blame Renée Zellweger. She did the Brit thing as Bridget Jones and got an Oscar nom, and then added an accent as Beatrix Potter and got away with that, too.
Usually it’s the other way around. Brits are way better at American accents than Yanks are at spouting Brit-speak. See Emma Thompson as the Hillary Clinton stand-in in Primary Colors, Hugh Laurie in TV’s House, and don’t forget that guy Daniel Day-Lewis. He took this year’s Oscar home for playing an American in There Will Be Blood.
Whatever. Something made Frances McDormand believe she could pull off an English accent as Miss Pettigrew, the homeless ex-nanny who lands a job as a social secretary to an aspiring actress in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.
Sorry, she doesn’t cut it – listen to the way she says the word “girl.” You can tell right away she’s a phony.
That’s not the biggest problem with this cloying modern fairy tale set in the 30s. The real pain in the ass is Amy Adams as Delysia, the ambitious singer who sleeps with the producer’s son (Tom Payne) to get the part in a major musical. She’s already fucked the owner of the bar where she sings and is stringing along her sweet piano accompanist (dishy Lee Pace).When Adams isn’t doing the ditzy thing à la Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite, she’s doing her sunny song thing, and it’s totally grating. Anyone who saw her performance at the Oscars knows exactly what I’m talking about.
McDormand – plainly suffering from the, “Oh god, I’m over 40, gimme a script, any script” syndrome – is sweet enough as the working-class woman who knows Delysia better than the singer knows herself. But how tired a cliché is that?
Gorgeous art direction, though. If you’re a fan of art deco, just look past the actors to the interiors. You’ll cream.