Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): Going for her little dream

“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is a delightful comedy which has lots of humor and goodwill in addition to a bunch of lovely dresses. As following its plain but decent heroine’s eventful journey toward her little dream, the movie often charms and amuses us with a series of warm and funny moments, and its predictable but enjoyable narrative is supported well by the likable performances from its main cast members.

Lesley Manville, who has been more prominent thanks to her recent Oscar-nominated turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s unforgettable costume drama film “Phantom Thread” (2017), plays Ada Harris, a widowed cleaning lady who has lived and worked in London for many years. Still feeling hurt about the loss of her husband during the World War II, Ada has devoted herself mostly to her daily work, and the only consolation comes from her best friend Vi (Ellen Thomas) and a local bookmaker named Archie (Jason Isaacs). It is apparent that Archie wants to get closer to Ada, BS Vi has always encouraged that, but Ada still hesitates although it has been more than 10 years since her dear husband died.

On one day, something comes to ignite Ada’s longtime yearning. While cleaning the residence of one wealthy resident, she comes across a very expensive dress made by the House of Christian Dior in Paris, and, as marveled by its undeniable beauty, she comes to decide that she really should buy a Christian Dior drees in Paris for herself. Although one Christian Dior dress will cost at least 500 pounds, she recently happens to get a substantial amount of cash by sheer good luck, and that becomes the starting point of her big plan for dressing shopping in Paris.

Despite several setbacks on her way, Ada eventually comes to have enough money for her dress shopping in Paris, and the movie has some little fun as she cannot help but impressed by a new world unfolded in front of her. While it Is rather dirty due to the ongoing strike of garbage collectors, Paris still looks wonderful and charming to Ada nonetheless, and she certainly expects a lot when she happens to be allowed to go inside the House of Christian Dior at the right moment thanks to another good luck.

Along with many prestigious clients, Ada soon beholds a series of many new different dresses for the new season, and that is definitely one of the highpoints in the film. Costume Designer Jenny Beavan, who recently won her third Oscar for “Cruella” (2021), surely has a field day here with all those gorgeous dresses shown during the sequence, and, not so surprisingly, the movie recently garnered an Oscar nomination for another top-notch work of hers.

Because of being quite less privileged and pretentious than many of clients, Ada naturally comes to draw attention from the employees in the House of Christian Dior, and, what do you know, she is wholly welcomed by almost everyone except Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert), the manager of Christian Dior who is incidentally as frigid and haughty as Manville’s similar character in “Phantom Thread”. No so amused by this little unexpected change brought by Ada, Madame Colbert tries to get rid of Ada as soon possible, but, to her annoyance, Ada is allowed to stay more in Paris thanks to the kindness of an ambitious young employee named André (Lucas Bravo).

While her chosen dress is going through the modification process as required, Ada comes to enjoy more of Paris, and she is helped a lot by not only André but also several other local people including Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson). As spending more time with this nice (and dashing) nobleman, Ada comes to see that she is still not too late for romance, and, as a widower, he seems to be also willing to get to know her more, though it later turns out that he is interested in her for some other reason.

Although it loses some of narrative momentum during its last act, the screenplay by director Anthony Fabian and his co-writers Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson, and Olivia Hetreed, which is based on Paul Gallico’s novel “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris”, still holds our attention as showing care and affection toward its heroine and other characters in the story. While the romantic subplot involved with André and a certain female employee is rather artificial, it is not entirely without amusement, and Ada’s gentle compassion toward them certainly boosts it later in the story. In case of Madame Colbert, she turns out to be not as heartless as she looked at first, and there is a little poignant moment when she comes to open herself to Ada much more than expected.

Manville’s lightweight comic performance entertainingly functions as the human anchor of the film, and she is also surrounded well by a group of distinctive performers to notice. While Isabelle Huppert has the most fun in the bunch as expected, Lucas Bravo, Alba Baptista, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, Lambert Wilson, and Jason Isaacs are well-cast in their respective supporting parts, and they bring considerable life and personality to their broad but colorful roles.

Overall, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is a small but enjoyable comedy to be savored for several good reasons besides those lovely dresses, and I also appreciate how it touchingly reminds us of the value of goodwill and kindness in the end. After all, we surely need more of goodwill and kindness considering how things have often been quite gloomy and disturbing for us these days, and the movie certainly makes a good case for that to us.

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1 Response to Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (2022) ☆☆☆(3/4): Going for her little dream

  1. Pingback: My Prediction on the 95th Academy Awards | Seongyong's Private Place

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