Audiences are invited on a journey of self-discovery, adventure and passionate haute couture in a brand new retelling of the classic story, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and this is a delightful piece of filmmaking that is sure to leave a sparkle in your eye, and a smile on your face.
In 1950s London, a widowed cleaning lady falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, deciding she must have one of her own. After working to raise the funds to pursue her dream, she embarks on an adventure to Paris that will change not only her own outlook — but the very future of the House of Dior.
Director Anthony Fabian brings to life a brand new adaptation of the classic novel by author Paul Gallico in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris about why sometimes it’s best to risk it all to follow your dreams. Fabian finds an interesting angle into this simple and charming story of one woman who finds the courage to undertake an almost impossible dream. With the right balance of drama and comedy, the narrative at the heart of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is both sweet and smart, and this is a story that keeps audiences on their toes.
Recalling the likes of classic films of the past, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Roman Holiday, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is an utterly delightful film to watch. It finds the perfect combination of performance, cinematography, design and score, and the film’s extensive wardrobe is utterly beautiful to look upon. Using colour and design to his advantage, Fabian brings a bold palette to help distinguish each part of the story. An array of tweeds and ambers represent a dreary 1950s London, while a palette of greys and browns showcase a downbeat and still healing post-WWII Paris, and then there’s the clean whites and fresh pastels that showcase the vibrance, beauty and magic that lie at the heart of the famed House of Dior.
Cast as the film’s central character Mrs. Ada Harris, a widowed cleaning lady who becomes obsessed with owning a Dior gown, is celebrated English thespian Lesley Manville. And she holds the attention of the screen with her performance. Manville expresses Ada as an ordinary woman possessed of an extraordinary dream, and who learning of the House of Dior decides to treat herself to a little bit of magic. Her journey leads to her discovering her own voice, and her grand adventure is sure to inspire audiences. Manville completely transforms into the character of Ada Harris, and her performance is certain to tug at your heartstrings.
Standing alongside Manville are an eclectic supporting cast and all get their moment to shine in the picture. Breathtaking beauty is found in the form of Alba Baptista who takes on the role of the dashing and glamourous Parisian model Natasha, the new face of Dior, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Ada, and who with her help can finally be true to herself. Then there’s Lucas Bravo, a handsome and chipper young Frenchman cast as André Fauvel, a Dior accountant who comes to the aid of Mrs Harris when she needs it, and who with her assistance and support, overcomes his shortcomings to pursue the love and life he wants. These two young performers match effortlessly with Manville, and the elder actress helps elevate their performances, with Baptista and Fauvel becoming key parts of the success of this story.
But while Manville’s Mrs Harris may dream of haute couture, she has a few hurdles to overcome. And these are chiefly represented by Isabelle Huppert as Claudine Colbert, Dior’s icy director and chief assistant to the grand master of design himself. As one of France’s most celebrated performers’ Huppert is in her element in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and even though she appears as the initial antagonist of the story, like every character present in this narrative, this is not her only side. As the film moves forward in its story we come to see a completely rounded character, courtesy of Huppert’s performance, and there’s an incredible sadness that lies at the heart of her character, and she soon finds the connection between herself and Ada.
As a cinema-going experience, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is nothing short of a visual spectacle, and this is present in the presence of the famed House of Dior, which is brought to life with stunning beauty. Fabian and costume designer Jenny Beavan worked hand-in-hand with the legendary fashion house to re-create the golden age of Haute Couture, and the world of Dior blossoms on screen in this picture. Recreating the era of the ‘New Look’, and its iconic pieces, including Dior’s legendary ‘Bar Dress’, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris works to bring audiences into this renowned fashion era. And it’s utterly gorgeous to look upon. Paying tribute to the opulence and grace of the House of Dior, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a tribute to those designers and seamstresses who ‘make moonlight’, and its fashions will take your breath away.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a very groovy film experience, and there are plenty of moments that will get the audience’s heart beating and their groove racing. From the introduction of the House of Dior to wild parties at the Moulin Rouge, there’s an energy and zeal to Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris and the score of Rael Jones certainly adds to it. Mixing orchestral elegance with swing-band jazz, Jones gives the picture a unique tone that complements the visuals, and also helps to extend the emotional journeys of the characters. It’s a score you’ll want to listen to over and over again, and this audio and visual mix certainly play on the audience’s feelings.
This is a picture that is also best experienced in the company of a large audience, and the collective experience of watching it in a cinema with others only adds to the fun. It’s a picture and narrative that will certainly touch the hearts of those who witness it, and if you’re seeking a picture to treat your mum to, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a perfect watch.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a charming and classic fairytale about the importance of following your dreams, and audiences will be utterly enchanted by its heart-warming story, colourful cast of characters and crisp visual beauty. It’s simply a gorgeous gem of a movie that will make your heart flutter with delight.
Image: Universal Pictures