Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PG)
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PG)
Director: Anthony Fabian
Cast: Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Isaacs, Anna Chancellor, Lambert Wilson, Rose Williams, Lucas Bravo, Alba Baptista
Synopsis: MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS is the enchanting tale of a seemingly ordinary British housekeeper whose dream to own a couture Christian Dior gown takes her on an extraordinary adventure to Paris.
Probably the most agreeable film of the year Mrs Harris Goes to Paris stars the incomparable Lesley Manville as the 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.
There is a superb supporting cast on both sides of the Channel in this effervescent film. Anna Chancellor is hilarious as the dreadful Lady Dant, who has bought the exquisite Dior dress which obsesses Mrs Harris, but who is too mean to pay her cleaning lady what she owes. Ellen Thomas gives a delightful performance as Mrs Harris’s best mate Violet and Jason Isaacs is a scene stealer as noisy, cheery Archie, who is involved in greyhound racing. Once Mrs Harris makes it to Paris, she encounters the terrifying, glacial Mme Colbert (a great comic performance from Isabelle Huppert) and the handsome, soigné Marquis de Chassange, played by Lambert Wilson, who sets her heart racing.
After scrimping and saving and receiving a back-dated war-widow’s pension, when Mrs Harris arrives in Paris she stumbles into a showing of Dior’s 10th anniversary collection and is befriended by André, the Dior accountant (Lucas Bravo), and Natasha, a Dior model (Alba Baptista). However, the Dior director, Mme Colbert, resents Ada’s intrusion into the exclusive world of haute couture who has no wish to be addressed as “ducks”.
But Dior has fallen on hard financial times, and, because Ada will pay in cash, they reluctantly agree to make her a dress. While in Paris for fittings, she stays with André and encourages him to express his affection for Natasha—who shares his interest in existential philosophy.
When Mme Colbert is forced to fire several Dior’s workers for financial reasons, Ada Harris organises a strike and forces Christian Dior (whom she describes as looking like her milkman) to hear André’s ideas to modernise and make the business profitable.
Lesley Manville is utterly convincing as a wide-eyed chirpy hard-working cleaner who comes into money and sets her heart on a Dior dress to wear to the Legion Dance in this 1950s-set charmer. Mrs Harris’s innate charm and innocence wins everyone over in a Cinderella-like tale.
Those in the mood for a light, feel-good story will want to follow along as Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and cheer her lightness, her determination and the way she deals with her inner grief over her long lost husband.
Led by a luminous Lesley Manville, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a good old-fashioned story charmingly told.
Images courtesy of UNIVERSAL PICTURES