Reviewer's grade: B+
Frances McDormand ("Fargo") plays titular character Miss Pettigrew, an unemployed governess only a day or so from outright destitution in 1939 London. By a lucky chance, she manages to steal an assignment working for Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams, "Enchanted"), a bombshell West End theater up-and-comer. However, while Miss Pettigrew thinks she'll be a governess to children, she finds herself pretending competency as Lafosse's "social secretary," which mostly means helping Lafosse get one man out of the house before the next one arrives.
Set against the threat of the upcoming war, the screwball antics of Lafosse and her socialite contemporaries take on new weight and profundity as the film examines the meaning of identity and career, asking what makes more sense in an uncertain life: sacrificing what one has for the unlikely possibility of an idyllic future, or realizing that what one has may be as idyllic as things are going to ever be.
Visually fantastic and well-acted overall, McDormand and Adams are the real show here, displaying the chops and comic timing of two versatile actors at the top of their game. PG-13