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Mrs Harris Goes To Paris ★★★



Director: Anthony Fabian

Cast: Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Isaacs, Anna Chancellor, Lambert Wilson, Lucas Bravo, Alba Baptista, Ellen Thomas

ReleaseSeptember 30th, 2022 (UK)

Paris’ magical reputation continues to attract and fascinate many, and this can be seen on screen as there has been the Netflix show Emily in Paris showcasing its locations, and now on the big screen, there is Mrs Harris Goes to Paris. Whilst Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is not a new homage to Paris, as it is the third film adaptation of the 1958 novel Mrs ‘Arris Goes to Paris, the film’s charm, wit and appreciation of the French capital and its rituals do not fail to enchant. The film is an ode to the House of Dior as Mrs Harris dreams of owning a Dior dress, which may seem like a lofty ambition for a charwoman in the 1950s. Still, the film emphasises that dreams and determination are essential qualities.

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris takes its audience on a whimsical journey from London to Paris imbued with charm, wit and a sprinkling of fairytale escapism, punctuated by some French revolutionary spirit. As the titular character, Lesley Manville provides a dose of cheeky, positive working class uplifting energy reminiscent of My Fair Lady as she aspires to own a piece of haute couture upon spying on the glamorous Miss Dior dress in her client’s wardrobe. Through magical harp sounds in the score and cinematic lighting to convey a state of nirvana when Mrs Harris touches the dress, the film equally seduces and hypnotises the audience to become enthralled by the designs of Dior too. 

Mrs Harris’ desire to own a Dior dress inevitably takes her to Paris to be enraptured by its romanticism. In Paris, the slow-motion shots and close-ups of the clothes display such a respect for the craft of the House of Dior and a passion for fashion through the lens of director Anthony Fabian. Such love for clothes may understandably invoke comparison to the Phantom Thread, in which Manville also starred. However, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris maintains a feel-good tone for most of its runtime. Of course, there are French clichés in effect with terrible French traffic, strikes, existential crises and that Parisian need for exclusivity portrayed. The film also highlights the French’s belief in fighting for employee rights and therefore injects a degree of social and political realism amongst other light-hearted elements. 

Manville delights as the cheerful, warm-hearted Mrs Harris, described as a fairy godmother of sorts, alluding to the overall Cinderella sensation conveyed in the film. Whilst the film’s structure may be old-fashioned, be the level of escapism needed presently to counter any bleak realities. Ada Harris is unafraid of hard work, having worked hard to save for her Dior dress and utilising her seamstress skills in Paris. As such, the film explores several important themes, including social mobility, that enables it to transcend beyond the confines of a superficial comedy.-,

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is an uplifting film to bring a smile to people’s faces, not least as a love letter to London, Paris and the House of Dior. The film exudes a level of beauty and appreciation of Paris in its luminosity, similar to Midnight in Paris, showcasing its reputation as the City of Light. Plus, to add to the Parisian fun, there are delightful. Still, too short, appearances from French cinematic greats such as Isabelle Huppert and Lambert Wilson and a nod to the recent Netflix series Emily in Paris, as actor Lucas Bravo, also appears. London equally dazzles in the film with beautifully hypnotic scenes on the Albert Bridge by night. Mrs Harris Goes to Paris bathes both London and Paris in a romantic glow which is mesmerising to view on screen.  

What truly sets the film apart is that the viewers are also permitted to look inside the House of Dior alongside Ada Harris and live vicariously through her experiences to become just as enraptured with Dior’s collection on the front row. These insights into such an established fashion house are engaging and well timed as Dior’s flagship location has recently been renovated on 30 Avenue Montaigne, a place depicted in the film. This location houses a permanent Dior exhibition, which toured London in 2019 with stunning dresses, so audiences can view some of the beautiful creations that Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has unveiled.

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is a scintillating tale of following your dreams but remaining authentic and exudes so much charm that it will please all types of cinemagoers. It is a visual delight for the senses with that added ‘Je ne sais quoi’. Hopefully, its feel-good nature and beautiful cinematography will encourage viewers to hop on a plane to Paris, as we shall always have Paris. They will inspire them to add the film to their cinema or year-end watch lists.

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