On Tuesday, I received an alert from SAJAer Vikas Mathur:
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the movie "Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day" was directed by an Indian who grew up in the UK. There's more info on him in Wikipedia and IMDB, it seems he also directed the HBO mini-series on the tsunami ("Tsunami: The Aftermath"). Just thought SAJA might be interested, hadn't seen it mentioned in any of the posts.
At that point, I have to confess, I had no idea what he was talking about. [As parents of 4-year-old twins, my wife and I can tell you all about the forthcoming "Horton Hears a Who!," but don't ask us about non-kid films.]
But over the last couple of days, I have been hearing a lot about this film and its director, 43-year-old Bharat Nalluri. He was born in Andra Pradesh, India, and raised in Newcastle Upon Tyne (more on him in his Wikipedia entry, his IMDB profile and in this HBO interview). It opens today in limited release in the U.S.
- A front-page pointer to a review in today's USA Today says: "'Miss Pettigrew' is delightful."
From Claudia Puig's review:
A good farce is hard to find. Particularly one that holds up for the entirety of the story and keeps us engrossed, while smiling. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a particularly effective and cheeky example.
Based on the 1938 novel by Winifred Watson, Miss Pettigrew is a veritable treat. Wisely cast, this handsome production is a delightful farcical fairy tale, bolstered by moments of depth and emotion.
- In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Colin Covert wrote:
They say comedy is all about timing. High praise goes to director Bharat Nalluri, who must have clocked the action with a split-second stopwatch. The boudoir doors slam precisely, and when the time comes for an interlude by Cole Porter or Johnny Mercer, he gracefully allows the rat-a-tat pace to relax. His stars complement one another nicely, with McDormand keeping the farce grounded in poignant emotion while Adams makes a feast of her ditzy role.
- Writing in the New York Times, Stephen Holden calls it a "screwball fable":
As it stands, the movie, directed by Bharat Nalluri from a screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, is an example of how a little nothing of a story can be inflated into a little something of a movie with perfect casting, dexterous tonal manipulation and an astute eye and ear for detail.
- At the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday wrote:
After a particularly dour Oscar season, the jolly romantic romp "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" sparkles like a rhinestone in the muck. Set in 1930s London, the story of a dowdy governess who finds adventure and love when she works as a starlet's personal assistant for 24 hours is just the tonic for filmgoers eager for a film that celebrates the bearable lightness of being.
- In India-West, Lisa Tsering had this to say:
Blessed with glowing performances by its lead actresses, a fast-paced script and expert comic timing, the film earned nonstop laughter and even audience shout-backs at the screen at a recent San Francisco press screening.
“It is a Bollywood movie,” Nalluri joked to India-West.
“This is my homage to my Sunday afternoons, growing up in India,” Nalluri said by phone from Los Angeles Mar. 3. “My parents would put on a movie, and invite loads of people, and make a big Indian meal, and kids would be running around.”
Born in Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur District, Nalluri, 43, has wanted to be a filmmaker since he was a little boy. Although his family was South Indian, they loved Bollywood and Hollywood films, and constantly played them in their home. The family moved to England when Nalluri was six.
He had already become one of England’s hottest directors in television, thanks to the overwhelming success of his cop-and-caper shows “Life on Mars,” “Spooks” and “Hustle,” when he was tapped by HBO two years ago to direct the miniseries “Tsunami: The Aftermath,” which earned three Emmy Award nominations, including one for Best Direction.
- At RottenTomatoes.com, the critic aggregation site, the consensus review:
It received a "freshness "rating of 73 percent, with 36 "fresh" reviews and 13 "rotten" reviews among movie critics, with an average rating of 6.7/10). Compare that to the other arthouse movie running now, "The Other Boleyn Girl," which got a freshness rating of 38 percent (40 "fresh," 66 "rotten," average critic rating of 5.2/10)
A breezy period comedy carried by strong lead performances.
See the full collection of reviews here.
- Over at Newsday, Jan Stuart isn't a fan:
The pleasure in these genre things is usually in the details, but "Miss Pettigrew" looks and feels like one of those third-tier period comedies the BBC churns out with numbing regularity. Director Bharat Nalluri compounds the chintziness with a full-throttle approach that blows away any lingering nuance from the source material.
The YouTube trailer is below. Post your comments, please.