Australian Council on Children and the Media

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Themes, sexual references and violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
  • a review of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 April 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Lacks interest and not recommended for this age group due to violence and scary scenes.
Children 5-8 Not recommended due to themes and sexual references
Children 8 -12 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and sexual references.
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent mild violence and sexual references
Length 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is the morally virtuous middle-aged daughter of country vicar. She recently lost her position as governess and, like many others in late 1930s London, finds herself destitute. She pleads with the employment agency to give her another job, but is refused. While waiting in the office, she overhears that Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams), actress, singer and socialite, requires a personal assistant. The desperate and resourceful Miss Pettigrew jumps at the opportunity and bluffs her way into the position.

The job, however, is more challenging than it first appears. Delysia has a very complicated love life, involving three very different men. Young wealthy Phil (Tom Payne), son of famous theatre producer is besotted with Delysia, who is using him to get a lead role in a musical. The older, wealthy Nick (Mark Strong) is a nightclub owner with wandering eye who ‘keeps’ Delysia in his apartment and provides her with a home and a job. Mike (Lee Pace), freshly released from jail for an incident which occurred during his proposal to Delysia, is a young and handsome, but poor, pianist who can only offer Delysia true love.

Against all her moral inclinations, Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia maintain the façade of her idyllic lifestyle. Both women realise that their situations are more similar than it would first appear, with both clinging on to others for their very survival. Through their experiences over a day they are both transformed.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Homelessness and poverty; deception; infidelity

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Mike and Nick exchange a few punches, but recover quickly. The fight is shown in a comic light.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • After losing her job, home and clothes, Miss Pettigrew is shown alone and hungry on the streets of London at night-time. She is forced to sleep at a railway station. This may be scary for younger viewers.
  • There are a few air raid drills, with sirens and people running for cover and appearing scared.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be scared by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • There is a scene of sexual innuendo when Miss Pettigrew mistakenly thinks Delysia has a young child sleeping in her room. After discovering it is in fact the naked Phil, she tells Delysia that he was a “much bigger boy” than she expected. Delysia responds to this by saying “oh, you noticed”.
  • When Nick returns home, he clearly wishes Miss Pettigrew to leave so that he can take Delysia to his bedroom. He is thwarted in his attempts.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Phil is shown asleep and naked in Delysia’s bed. He is only shown from behind, so only his back and bottom are seen.
  • When Delysia enters the room to get Phil out of the apartment, Phil, who is still naked, pulls her into the bed and starts to kiss her. As an alarmed Miss Pettigrew is present, nothing further happens. Phil later jumps out of bed, but is only seen nude from the side.
  • When Delysia gets changed, her bare back is shown.
  • In other scenes, Delysia is seen walking around the apartment in underwear.
  • Delysia steps out of bath and her naked back is again revealed.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Miss Pettigrew smokes a cigar as part of an act to convince Nick of her character. She doesn’t enjoy the experience.
  • At a cocktail party, Delysia and Miss Pettigrew both drink a number of cocktails and become slightly drunk.
  • Some of the male characters smoke cigarettes.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • damned
  • hell
  • doggone

In a nutshell

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a romantic comedy. Young children may find the film dull, but older children, particularly girls, adolescents and adults may enjoy the attractive protagonists, costumes and the quality of the production.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • loyalty and true friendships
  • resourcefulness and persistence in tough times
  • living by good core values
  • love is not a game

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss the real-life consequences of:

  • sexual promiscuity and infidelity
  • being prepared to do anything for money and security
  • blackmail

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