Over the course of her career, British actress Lesley Manville has proven to be an invaluable actor in nearly everything she is a part of. In Paul Thomas Anderson's "Phantom Thread," Manville really got people to American audience's to notice her, and she scored her first Oscar nomination.
In the slight, breezy "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris," Manville makes the mediocre worth watching, just barely, elevating the lesser material by pouring herself into it fully.
This is the third attempt at adapting the 1958 novel, "Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris," by author Paul Gallico. Perhaps the best known version was a 1992 TV movie with Angela Lansbury in the titular role. This time it is Manville who fills the shoes of Ada Harris, a widowed maid who spots a fancy, expensive dress in the house of one of her well-to-do clients, and absolutely falls in love with it. The dress, a couture Dior, gets Ada to dream big, and sends her on an adventure to Paris where she obsessively tries to earn a Dior dress of her own, to fulfill her fantasy and to defy her current status.
Ada has the money, but she becomes an invaluable source of inspiration for others around her, like the model Natasha (Alba Batpista) and a spirited accountant, André (Lucas Bravo). Mrs. Harris becomes instrumental in getting both of them - and others - to think outside of the box that society has placed them in, to want more out of life. The whole thing will either inspire you, or annoy the living hell out of you.
What's wrong with a little hope? Or a movie that inspires optimism? This is a somewhat shallow, condescending vehicle, but with Manville's hands on the wheel, it becomes an endearing ride. Not without its bumps, "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" won't change the world, but it does remind us that there is good in it, somewhere underneath the fancy clothes and the expensive materials.
Genre: Comedy, Drama.
Run Time: 1 hour 55 minutes.
Starring: Leslie Manville, Jason Isaacs, Anna Chancellor, Rose Williams, Isabelle Huppert, Lucas Bravo.
Directed by Anthony Fabian ("Louder Than Words," "Skin").
"Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" is in limited theatrical release on Friday, July 15th, 2022.
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