Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day is about Ms. Guinevere Pettigrew (Francis Drumond). Guinevere is an unlucky woman who can't seem to keep a job in 1940's London. She loses her job and is not paid the wages she is owed. Since she was live-in help she has no money and no place to go. Over night she finds a soup kitchen but her plate is knocked out of her hand and her food is spilled on the ground. In an alley she see's a young woman and a man kissing. She thinks nothing of it. She sleeps in a train station. The next morning she heads to the employment agency. On the way she runs into a man and drops her suit case spilling all her things out on the street. The man apologizes and for some reason tells her he just got out of prison which frightens Guinevere She runs away without her suite case leaving the man holding one of her garments.
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At the employment agency she is told that jobs are scarce. Since she has lost the last few jobs she has had she will not be given anymore chances. Ms. Holt(Stephanie Cole), the agency head, leaves her desk after bidding Guinevere a good day. On the desk Guinevere see's a card for a possible employer and takes it.
At ten in the morning she arrives at a luxurious penthouse flat. A beautiful young redhead, Delysia Lafosse(Amy Adams), answers the door. Lafosse asks Guinevere what time it is. She tells her it is 10:05. Alarmed, Delysia starts rushing around trying to clean up. It is revealed that there is a person upstairs that needs to get up. Guinevere, who has passed herself off as an employee of the agency, says she can get the person up and dressed is a very short time. She goes upstairs and opens the blinds and pulls the covers back revealing a naked man, Phil Goldman(Tom Payne). Phil Goldman is the son of a film producer that Delysia was sleeping with to secure a part in a movie. Guinevere is surprised. She was under the impression that the person was a little boy. She goes downstairs and tries to tell Delysia that she wants to quit and that there must have been some mistake. Delysia convinces Ms. Pettigrew to stay and help her saying that having Ms. Pettigrew around makes her feel stronger and more secure. That strength and security is going to be needed when Nick Calderelli(Mark Strong) gets home. It is his flat that Delysia is staying in. If he gets home and see's Phil there there would be a problem. Delysia also says that there is another man Michael Pardue(Lee Pace), a penniless pianist. Delysia and Guinevere go upstairs together to wake Phil up. Delysia tells him he has to go but he is unwilling to go quickly. He mentions Charlotte Warren, an actress who had auditioned for the lead role in his movie, which upsets Delysia because that is the role she is out for. Ms. Pettigrew says she saw Charlotte Warren(Christina Cole) out with a different producer last night. Phil hops out of bed and rushes around to find his clothes.
After he is dressed and downstairs he asks for breakfast which he is refused save toast. Delysia gets him in the lift and asks Ms. Pettigrew to clean up the flat.
In the lift the couple talk about Delysia having the lead role in the movie. They kiss a bit before he is off.
Meanwhile Nick had gotten home early and was on his way up when the lift was on its way down. He has to climb the stairs to get to his flat. When he gets there Delysia, who had taken the lift back up, was on the couch in nothing but a fur coat talking to Guinevere. Delysia said Nick was no good for her but she could not resist him. With Ms. Pettigrew beside her she felt strong and able to resist him.
When he gets there he says he thought Phil Goldman's car was outside which Delysia denies. He asks who Guinevere is. She is now Delysia's social secretary. Nick asks if someone else had been in the apartment which Delysia also denies. After finding a cigar Nick accuses Delysia of wrong doing but Ms. Pettigrew covers by saying the cigar is hers and she lights it up to prove it. Ms. Pettigrew reminds Delysia, as instructed previously, of a fashion show she is suppose to attend. Nick wants her to cancel but she refuses. She asks Nick to leave. He is reluctant but he does so.
Relieved that Nick is gone Delysia gets ready to go. She asks Guinevere if she has anything else other than the drab brown she is wearing but she does not. Delysia promises to change that later.
On the walk to the fashion show Delysia gives Guinevere a scarf to keep her warm. At the fashion show Delysia and Guinevere admire the new underwear lines on the runway. The announcer, Edythe Dubarry(Shirley Henderson), which Guinevere recognizes as the girl from the alley, announces the line of clothes by Joe Blomfield (Ciaran Hinds). She bashes the line making it sound like a terrible thing to buy. Delysia reveals that the two are dating and their relationship is tempestuous and they probably had a fight and that is why Edythe was being so terrible.
Guinevere excuses herself to get something to eat. After getting a piece of cake Joe starts admiring her scarf which turns out to be one of his creations. She drops her cake accidentally and as Joe cleans it up she walks away.
After the show it is revealed that Edythe and Joe had a misunderstanding and that is why the engagement is off. Delysia introduces Guinevere to Edythe. Edythe thinks she has seen Guinevere somewhere before but Guinevere denies it. Delysia says that they were on there way to get Guinevere some new clothes.
They go to Edythes salon and clothing store and give Guinevere a make over. Edythe and Delysia come to get her. Outside of the dressing room Edythe tells Delysia why the wedding is off. She says it was a late train that lead to Joe thinking she was cheating with her ex-boyfriend Gerry. The truth is she was cheating with her ex-boyfriend. It is then she remembers where she saw Guinevere. She was in the alley the night before. The transformation is remarkable. Guinevere looks like a whole new person. While looking in the mirror Edythe asks for Guinevere help to persuade Joe to call the engagement back on. Guinevere refuses. Edythe tells Delysia that Guinevere will be talking to Joe to smooth things over even after Guinevere said no.
Back at the flat a man,Michael Pardue(Lee Pace) is playing piano. Guinevere recognizes him as the man who she ran into in the street.
Delysia greets him happily. Michael is upset because Delysia missed a date with him. He refuses to be made a fool of anymore and tells her it is him and only him. If she does not want him he will disappear from her life forever. She does not believe him but he shows her two tickets to New York where they will play together if she decides to go. Michael gets a drink while Pettigrew and Delysia talk. It is her fault he is upset. He tells the story of why he was in the jail. He got drunk on the night Delysia missed their date. It was the night he was going to propose to her but since she did not show up he drank too much and assaulted a guard which got him sent to prison for 30 days. He tells Delysia that it is marriage or nothing. Guinevere saves her saying Delysia should have more time to think. It is revealed that Michael hates working for Nick at the club. He gives Delysia until after their performance that night to make up her mind.
Upset Delysia goes to take a bath and prepare for a party. She asks for advice laying out what she can get from each man. She can get a flat and a job from Nick. She can get a chance to be a star from Phil but only love from Michael. Delysia asks Guinevere if she had been in love and she says yes but refuses to tell the story because it was a long time ago.
She gets out of the tub and people come set up for the party ta party. The party is for Phil's announcement . At the party Mike is playing. It is revealed that Guinevere does not drink but she is convinced to anyway. When Phil comes to the party he comes with Charlotte Warren. The two women, Warren and Lafosse, have a war of words. Guinevere talks to Phil allowing him to believe that Delysia loves him and is in it for more than the part in the movie. Phil changes him mind and gives Delysia the part.
Joe, which Edyth had pointed out to Ms. Pettigrew, starts talking to Guinevere. While talking Guinevere finishes her drink and Joe goes to get her one. Meanwhile, Edyth blackmails Guinevere saying she could put Guinevere back in the soup kitchen line if she does not convince Joe to come back to her. Guinevere does just what she is asked against her own judgment.
The announcement is made that Delysia will be playing the part and also that Delysia and Phil are getting married.
Michael storms out of the room when hearing about the engagement. Guinevere tried to talk Delysia out of it but she goes along with the engagement anyway.
Joe comes to find Guinevere and they make a connection while war planes go overhead. They talk about how the young people do not remember the first great war.
Edyth comes and fetches Joe asking him to walk her home so she can explain.
In the car on the way from the penthouse to the Delysia tells Guinevere her story. She is a small town girl from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Her real name is Sarah Grub and she moved out to London to become a big success. She is so close to the poor house that she wakes up everyday wondering if that is the end of her glamorous life. She says that Michael does not judge her.
Back at the penthouse Pettigrew is remorseful for her hand in pushing Michael away.
At the club, Nick is hosting the party. When Guinevere and Delysia come in Nick meets them at the door. He heard about Delysia's starring role and tells her that he understands that it is just business. After the show he expects her at his flat. Delysia notices Phil and goes to greet him before her performance begins. Nick antagonizes Phil by asking him how prison was before introducing Delysia. Instead of playing the song he was told to play Michael plays “If I Didn't Care”. It is a sad emotional song that Delysia sings with Michael. It makes her cry. She shares a moment with Michael before she is absorbed by the applause and turns to the crowd. She tells hims to play something more lively. Joe and Guinevere dance. There is clearly an attraction between the two people.
Out on the balcony Guinevere meets Joe again. They have a pleasant conversation before Edyth shows up. She tells on herself when she asks Joe if Guinevere told him about her car ride with Gerry. She also tells Joe that Guinevere is not a social assistant but a homeless person that hangs around soup kitchens. Guinevere goes back inside the building. She had not told Joe anything but Joe is appreciative that the truth finally came out.
Soon after their conversation and air raid siren goes off reminding everyone that time is precious and that a war will start any day now. Guinevere hides under a table with Delysia and tells her that she should not waste any of her precious life. She tells Delysia her story. She loved a man who went to war and died in the mud in France. She lost her chance at love and does not want the same thing to happen to Delysia. When the lights come back on Delysia see's Phil kissing Charlotte. He tells her she can still have the part if she wants it but she refuses and goes in search of Michael. She finds him at the door. Nick grabs her arm while she is talking to Michael. Guinevere yells for Michael to punch. Nick in the face. He does and a fight breaks out. During the fight Delysia makes it clear she wants to marry Michael and Michael finds the strength to win the fight. Delysia and Michael leave the club. Guinevere meets Michael and Delysia at Nicks flat as they are prepared to leave. They were worried about her but she is okay. They are going off to New York to start their new lives. After their departure Guinevere ends up at the train station where she had spent the night. In the morning Joe finds her. He tells her he had been looking for her all night. She asks if he wanted a social assistant but he doesn't. He only wants her. He offers her a meal which she takes revealing to him that he has not eaten in a very long time.
Best part of story, including ending:
I really like that Guinevere Pettigrew is such a sweet lady. I also like how she just kind of fell into Delysia's crazy world and helped the girl through some hard times. I also like how the time span is only a day long but the story isn't lacking because of that.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scenes are the ones where the Ms. Pettigrew is unable to eat the food she has. Several times she found something to eat and it is dropped or swept away. For example, she was in the train station and saw a partially eaten apple. She was going to pick it up but was unable to get there before the janitor did. It was hilarious.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike that Delysia is so fickle. It causes unnecessary heartache.