Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (CREDIT: Dávid Lukács/© 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kft)

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

Director: Anthony Fabian

Running Time: 115 Minutes

Rating: PG for Rudeness and Arrogance

Release Date: July 15, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: The widowed Ada Harris (Lesley Manville) is generally happy with her life as a cleaning lady in 1950s London. But there’s one thing she’s always dreamed of doing: embark to the City of Lights so that she can purchase her very own Dior dress. When a series of fortunate events provide her with a windfall of quick cash, she takes the opportunity to make the fantasy come true. Alas, despite her ability to pay immediately at the point of purchase, she is sneered at by the snooty haute couture establishment. But she also wins over the more progressive elements under Dior’s employ and barrels over everyone else with her sheer indefatigability.

What Made an Impression?: A few years ago, Lesley Manville starred in another finely stitched-together fashion-centric film. That would be Phantom Thread, a movie that features remarkable craftsmanship but which I have no desire to ever see again because I found it so profoundly unpleasant. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, on the other hand, is worthy of a rewatch, as it is charming from beginning to end, no matter how much anybody tries to beat that out of it. And it’s a good thing, too, because in the movie’s telling, she pretty much singlehandedly saves Dior from oblivion. I doubt that that’s historically accurate, but I kind of want it to be now.

In addition to getting fitted for her dress and saving an entire fashion house, Mrs. Harris also finds time to encourage a budding romance between a Dior employee (Lucas Bravo) and one of the models (Alba Baptista). It’s built on a foundation of existentialism and socialism, so that’s good to see. And, you might be wondering, is there also room for Mrs. Harris’ own love to blossom? Well, she does meet a fancy marquis (Lambert Wilson) who finds her adorable, and then there’s her friend Archie (Jason Isaacs) back home at the race track. She seems a little uncertain when it comes to affairs of the heart, though, but I suspect her late husband would be happy for her to give it a go, and you know what? I bet movie theater audiences would be as well. Oh well, I’m sure she’ll take it all at whatever speed she needs to for herself.

Anyway, in summary, preternaturally strong-willed characters like Mrs. Harris could easily become exhausting, but that’s not the case here, as Manville knows how to calibrate every one of her acting decisions just so.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is Recommended If You Like: Paying in full in cash, Getting your measurements taken, Discussing Sartre over dinner

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Dresses