In the comedy-drama Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, a widowed cleaner from London is inspired to buy a couture Dior dress and sets about turning her dream into reality. Source: Jesuit Media.
Ada Harris (Manville) is an unassuming, widowed, middle-aged cleaner working in London in the 1950s. She becomes obsessed with the glamour of a Dior dress owned by one of her clients when she sees the dress hanging in her client’s wardrobe, and it inspires her to want to buy her own couture dress.
An unexpected additional backpay from a reinstated war widow’s pension sees Ada with enough cash to go to Paris to buy the dress of her dreams.
In Paris, she accidentally connects with a formal showing of Dior’s 10th Anniversary collection. There, she is befriended by Natasha (Baptista), an elegant Dior fashion model, and Andre Fauvel (Bravo), a handsome Dior accountant. Not so friendly is Claudine Colbert (Huppert), an executive director for Dior, who at first regards Ada cynically as intrusive and socially embarrassing.
Ada is bearing cash, and the House of Dior is experiencing financial strain. Ada is befriended by the Marquis de Chassagne (Wilson), who is also a widower. With a little friendly help from royalty, she manages to become an invited guest to Dior’s prestigious exhibition room and she continues on her quest to get the dress of her dreams.
This film is an old-fashioned, feel-good story, told with affection and endearment from the viewpoint of the main character. Manville is wonderful as Ada, giving her a comic touch, that is equally dramatic, while her smiles and warmth are uniformly endearing.
The film is unapologetic for valuing the idea of beauty in fashion garments, and Manville acts out what one underprivileged woman wants – with satirical glances directed to The House of Dior. The film further addresses homelessness as a serious social issue.
Review by Peter W Sheehan, Jesuit Media
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris: Starring Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista and Lucas Bravo. Directed by Anthony Fabian. Rated PG (Occasional coarse language). 115 min.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)