Frances McDormand brings “Miss Pettigrew” to life


Some actresses — Meryl Streep,
Susan Sarandon
and Michelle Pfeiffer come to mind
— have the power to get me to the movie theater just because they’re
in a film, regardless of its reviews. Frances McDormand is one
of my favorites in that category.

Although McDormand has enjoyed
a long career, I first noticed her — as did many people — when she played
pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo.

She is the quintessential character
actress, whose talent for playing smart, tough women with dry wit and
a very direct manner often lands her in strong supporting roles. (OK,
she wasn’t so smart in Blood Simple, but that was her first movie,
so give her a break.) I loved her portrayal of Jane, who designed trendy
and expensive clothing but couldn’t be bothered with washing her hair,
in Friends With Money.

But I’m always happy to see
her take the lead, as she does in the upcoming Miss Pettigrew
Lives for a Day

McDormand plays the title character,
Guinevere Pettigrew, a governess mistakenly sent to the home of American
nightclub performer Miss Delysia LaFosse. Miss Pettigrew is assigned
the task of sorting out the singer’s somewhat complicated affairs and,
in the process, finds she enjoys a life of glamour. Amy Adams
plays Miss LaFosse.

The book on which this movie
is based is one of Persephone Books‘ most successful titles. In case you
don’t know — and I didn’t, until recently — Persephone Books is a small publisher that reprints “neglected
fiction and nonfiction books by women, for women and about women
.” Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,
by Winifred Watson, was first published in 1938 and is a great
read, as are all the Persephone Books I’ve read. I
recommend reading it before the movie comes out next year. Meanwhile,
here’s the trailer from Miss Pettigrew.

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