I never saw the film versions, but this one reminds me a lot of a staging I saw at Idaho Shakespeare Festival, The Importance of Being Earnest. And as is the case with virtually everything I see at ISF, I really enjoyed this movie.
Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand, Fargo) is a meek and penniless governess in London in the days just before the onset of WWII. Having been dismissed from yet another position, Pettigrew finagles her way into employment under a flighty singer (Amy Adams, Enchanted) who's got more male attention than she can possibly handle. As the day progresses, the pair of women begin to transform their lives and fortunes as a swirl of activity goes on around them.
Adams is so flamboyant in the first half of the film that she literally steals the show, but not in a good way. In fact, if you only watched for a half hour, you might think her thoroughly annoying. Conversely, McDormand is rather bland at the outset, but her Pettigrew begins to blossom shortly thereafter. Both actresses' characters are quite dynamic and it's fun to watch them progress.
This is truly a sneakily good story. Between the exposition, the nifty costumes and the slew of vibrant personalities that interact with the two leads, it really does feel like you're watching something right out of an Oscar Wilde stage show.
It's light humor, but if you can outlast the slow start, you'll find something subtle, fun and sweet in Miss Pettigrew.
This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.