A film about a hardworking, genuinely good human being pursuing their crazy dreams of buying a Christian Dior dress may well be the cinematic highlight of the year
Starring Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, and Jason Isaacs
There is nothing more satisfying than a good Cinderella tale, and this adaptation of Paul Gallico’s “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris” has charm in spades. With an inspiring moral to chase one’s crazy dreams even in the face of extreme adversity, star Lesley Manville‘s performance is incredibly earnest and perfectly understated as the relentlessly giving Ada Harris.
Set in post-World War II Battersea, Mrs Harris runs herself ragged working both as a cleaner and as a seamstress, doing all that she can for those around her in exchange for very little. Her outlook on life begins to change, however, when she comes face to face with one of her client’s, Lady Dent (played with relish by Anna Chancellor), Christian Dior dress. Never having witnessed anything of such incredible beauty before, Ada resolves that she will get herself a Dior dress of her own, a journey that sees her scrimping and saving and going to extreme lengths to secure the necessary funds.
As the title suggests, Ada does, of course, make it to Paris, but her journey to uniting with her ideal dress is far from smooth, as she falls foul of the snobbery of the Dior director, Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert), who believes that the beauty and elegance of Christian Dior is maintained by its exclusivity. Ada’s extreme good nature, however, wins her the hearts of many others in France, including accountant André (Lucas Bravo), face of Dior Natasha (Alba Baptista) and even the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson).
Ultimately, the beauty of Ada’s tale is the concept of receiving all of the goodness that she has put into the world back towards herself. Finally, she is permitted the opportunity to be selfish. Ada’s journey is thoroughly touching and the combination of Manville’s brilliant performance along with the soaring score by Rael Jones makes for a hugely emotive story.
While not quite as moving as the near-flawless musical Flowers for Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris demonstrates why it’s such a winning story. Pure joy in seeing such a good character receive what they truly deserve in life – even if it’s just a nice dress.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris was release in the United Kingdom on 30 September 2022