In Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, the year is 1957 and after more than a decade of waiting for her husband to return home from the Second World War, Ada Harris finally receives a letter informing her he is officially missing in action. Upset about the content of the letter, but able to accept the truth (which she knew was inevitable), Ada presses ahead with the life she has built in his absence.
This life revolves around her job as a cleaner, for well-to do clients. She works for a number of upper-class people, who don’t pay her very well, but she saves what money she can and just gets on with things regardless, not having a bad word to say about anyone.
But one day, after spotting a beautiful, yet expensive dress at the home of one of her clients, Ada decides she would like a dress of her very own. As with the one she has seen, the dress must be from Paris, and must be from fashion house, Christian Dior.
After winning £150 on the football pools, Ada clubs together all of her savings and takes on any extra work she can to raise what she believes will be the right amount for the dress. However, to reach her grand total, she puts all of her money on a bet, which sadly fails to pay out.
But things soon pick up when Ada finds herself receiving a succession of windfalls. These windfalls provide her with enough money to buy the dress she desires, and pay for her plane ticket to Paris.
So, off to France she travels, in search of her dreams. But will she get the dress she so desperately wants, or will she come home empty handed?
Directed by Anthony Fabian, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris stars Lesley Manville, Ellen Thomas, Lambert Wilson, and Jason Isaacs. The movie is based on Paul Gallico’s book, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, and is a comedy-drama which is new to UK cinemas this Friday.
Now, if all this sounds familiar it is probably because you have stumbled across an earlier version of this story. The original novel has been adapted multiple times before, most notably in 1992 via a delightful TV movie starring Angela Lansbury and Omar Sharif.
If you’ve watched the Lansbury movie, then you will know it is a lovely little tale. And the good news is, this latest adaptation is equally as lovely.
Charming, endearing, sweet, and touching, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a beautifully told movie, about someone chasing her dreams. The film looks at the kindness of strangers, and how one person can change the lives of many.
The picture focuses on Ada Harris and how her personable nature becomes the catalyst for action. The story has been told many times before, and in many different ways, yet here it remains fresh and important, and at this point in time, incredibly relevant.
Discussions about class, wealth, and inequality, which are topics of today, are filtered into this story. Sure, this movie might be set during the late 1950s, but certain aspects of the narrative reflect the current struggles of the world.
These struggles require a new way of thinking, and they require a Mrs. Harris too. And a Mrs. Harris like the one played so perfectly by Lesley Manville.
Manville is great in everything, so it’s no surprise that she’s on fine form here. As Ada Harris, Manville lights up every scene, bringing a down-to-Earth quality to an exquisite lady.
She’s compassionate and considerate one moment; forthright and bold the next. She’s a dynamic Hilda Ogden, with a heart of gold, and someone we could all do with in our lives.
To put it simply: Manville is superb in this film and she makes Ada Harris superb too. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a brilliant movie hands down, but Manville certainly adds so much to the picture.
Casting this actor in this role was a masterstroke, but then so is everything else in this film. From the tone and humour, to the music, setting, and cinematography, the whole picture just sings!
With this film, director Anthony Fabian delivers something special. It is an enchanting piece and is much needed.
We live in turbulent times and with an ever-changing world which seems to be in freefall at present, it’s important to have a bit of escapism that can give us all a lift. I believe Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is exactly that.
This is a film which simply wants to tell a tale about hope and kindness, and it is one filled with positivity. Similar to the much-loved Paddington films, it is a movie that leans into optimism and doesn’t have a bad moment throughout.
If you are looking for a film to get lost in, then Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is certainly that film. In the words of Ada Harris, “We need our dreams, now more than ever”, and in the words of this reviewer, “we also need films like this too.”
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