When I heard both the description of this movie and that Leslie Manville was starring, I immediately wanted to see it. I have an odd love of dresses and haute couture, so the story appealed to me. I am so grateful I got to see this film. Leslie Manville was a delight. The performances were exquisite, the gowns beautiful, and the film’s timeless quality made it lovely to watch and perfect for romantics.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a historical comedy-drama directed and produced by Anthony Fabian from a screenplay he co-wrote with Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson, and Olivia Hetreed. It is the third film adaptation of the 1958 book “Mrs. ’Arris Goes to Paris” by Paul Gallico. In the film, Mrs. Ada Harris (Leslie Manville) works as a cleaning lady for various clients along with her friend Vi Butterfield (Ellen Thomas). A widow, having only recently had confirmation her husband passed away in World War II, Ada is cleaning for a client Lady Dant and sees a beautiful Dior gown. She falls in love with the dress and plans to go to Paris to purchase her own gown, enlisting Vi and her friend Archie (Jason Isaacs. After arriving in Paris, she embarks on an adventure that leads to many new friends, including a model, Natasha (Alba Baptista), a Marquis (Lambert Wilson), the manager of the House of Dior, Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Huppert), and finance officer Andre Fauvel (Lucas Bravo). She helps each of them, and her adventures lead to new experiences for Ada.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is simply a delight. Part of that is because the writers ground the film in the fifties era, including garbage strikes in Paris and World War II. The designs of the dresses and sets all reflect the period perfectly. Even though it is grounded in the fifties, some of those same issues resonate with modern audiences and create a timeless effect. For the scenes and characters from France, the French performers create an elegant quality and attention to detail that adds to the pleasure of watching the movie. It is reminiscent of the films of that era in so many little details, including that the actress playing Natasha feels like a deliberate reference to Audrey Hepburn, with her grace, beauty, and intelligence.
The writing has so many beautiful moments of hopefulness and heart. Every time Ada Harris thinks she can’t realize her dream, there is another circumstance or person that aids her. At the beginning of the film, she feels invisible, but throughout her adventures, she learns to be more confident, take risks, and be stronger. She blooms, and those around her are impacted by her loving and kind nature. I love that the drama is brought by Ada Harris being good to those around her. Despite the challenges, Ada is sweet and positive, and the story is incredibly upbeat.
While the drama is upbeat, the comedy has its own gentle sensibility. Ada Harris is quick-witted, with a sparkling mannerism, and her quips are funny and delightful, especially in some situations. The secondary characters, Archie and Vi, add tons of humor, especially in their interactions with Ada. The French characters, while more elegant, add to the situational humor as they try to explain the process of making a fitted dress to Ada. The character’s process and her adventures are where the humor shines.
The acting is brilliant, especially Leslie Manville but indeed so is the entire cast. Leslie Manville is sweet, and I love how she exudes warmth and kindness. She reminded me of a young Betty White with her mannerisms and appearance and made a wonderful Cinderella type. Jason Isaacs as Archie was charming and funny when flirting with the women around him. There is an undeniable spark of chemistry between the pair of them. Ellen Thomas is a joyful blast of humor, and her camaraderie as Ada’s best friend heightens the story. The performances from the French cast, Alba Baptista, Lambert Wilson, Isabelle Huppert, and Lucas Bravo, are elegant, humorous, and supremely skilled. Every performance in this film is exquisitely good.
The comedy aspects are well done, but there are predictable moments in the film. I was not surprised at the ending, but even so, I adored the ending because, as a romantic, I wanted an upbeat and joyful end to Ada Harris’ adventures. If you don’t like upbeat or want a more gritty film, this may not be your style. It is very elegant, but the story is what you expect. It is the execution that makes it so wonderful to watch.
If you are a romantic, if you love adventures and beautiful ball gowns, this film might be for you. It is all about a woman blooming and overcoming obstacles to realize her dream, no matter how far-fetched. The characters are charming, inescapably fun, and joyful, and the humor is witty. The dresses are gorgeous, the film is lovely, and the performances are wonderfully skilled. This film is perfect for the romantics, especially if you see it as a mature Cinderella film. It has an ageless quality that will resonate with audiences for years.
Rating: 4.5 roses out of 5.
Official Website: Mrs Harris Goes To Paris | Official Website | July 15 2022
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
In partnership with the House of Dior, MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS tells the story of a widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London who falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress and decides that she must have one of her own. After she works, starves, and gambles to raise the funds to pursue her dream, she embarks on an adventure to Paris which will change not only her own outlook, but the very future of the House of Dior.
MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS opens in theaters on Friday, July 15, 2022.
ONE-LINER: A widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and decides that she must have one of her own.