In “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” Leslie Manville returns to the world of high fashion reversing her Oscar-nominated role. In “Phantom Thread”. Her frigid, delicious character in this movie – the forbidding boss of a British fashion house and nemesis of the meanest muse Vicki Cripps – was going to be frozen to be Mrs. Ada Harris of Manville to go to the fitting room, ordering a “dress” as Cockney pulls her.
Unsurprisingly, the formidable Manville pulls off the executioner, infusing her role as a gentle cleaning lady with a tenderness and grace that far surpasses the complacency that is the movie around her.
Directed by Anthony Fabian, “A. Harris Goes to Paris” trades in a similar kind of British comfort as the “Paddington” films, although not as funny or hilarious.
Lady Harris, a toiling widow in the elite service of post-war London, has her eyes set on a custom Dior dress and, after a series of lucky events, heads to Paris to retrieve the clothes of her dreams. Despite finding the money, our heroine must contend with the menace of Madame Colbert (Isabelle Hubert) and the arrogant mores of the Biz and her patrons.
For the other weary employees of the world – the kind philosophical model Natasha (Alba Baptista), the lovable accountant Andre (Lucas Bravo) – Mrs. Harris proves on her own that the rules of society are not necessarily strict. If a humble maid could get her hands on a dress that cost 600 pounds, what would prevent Natasha from pursuing an intellectual life, or Andrei from revolutionizing the company to attract women from all walks of life?
Filled with optimism and quiet wisdom, the hilarious working bee metaphor is insulting, and Mrs. Harris’s repetition is no exception. Despite its delightful display of fine clothing and vibrant mid-century Parisian scenes, the film is caught between its fantasies and principles, landing somewhere more worrisome — and dull — than it needs to be.
Mrs. Harris goes to Paris
PG rating. Show duration: 1 hour 55 minutes. in theatres.
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