A whimsical comedy with heart of luxury.
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” may be based on a book (titled “Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris”), but it still reminded me of the heart of “It Could Happen To You,” because of the generosity and love inside. It’s about a hardworking woman, who finds some good luck to make her way into the high life, only to find out there are still kind-hearted people along the way. It represents the power of friendship in a patient way.
I don’t judge people by their colors or race, but rather their actions. I can’t stand mean people, but every once in a while, I acknowledge that they have some baggage of their own. Some of the people I’ve crossed paths with won’t ever change, or maybe they can as long as we get to know one another. Mrs. Ada Harris (wonderfully played by Lesley Manville) is that kind of person, who can transform her newfound friends in her own special ways, even if we can guess them in advance.
Mrs. Harris is a cleaning woman in 1950s London, who is distraught by the loss of her soldier husband, but is revitalized by her witnessing a couture Dior dress. In fact, she falls in love with it to the point of her wanting to buy such an expensive and lavish dress. She can’t afford it, unless of course, she can get lucky a number of times cover it. Despite some setbacks, she does get lucky in various ways, with some help from her friends-Vi (Ellen Thomas) and Archie (Jason Isaacs), and that’s when she decides to travel to Paris to buy it.
Upon her arrival, she finds herself dealing with snobs like the no-nonsense Claudine Colbert (Isabella Huppert) and her #1 customer Madame Avallon (Guilaine Londez), and finding friends in the aristocratic Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson), the Dior accountant Andre Fauvel (Lucas Bravo from “Emily in Paris”) and the model Natasha (Alba Baptista).
Mrs. Harris has to stay during the fitting of her dress for a few weeks, which could affect her job, but her newfound friends are kind enough to help her out. And plus, she came all this way to Paris, and she’s not leaving without the dress of her dreams.
She’s helped out people back in London, asking for nothing in return, and she also helps out her new friends out with their respective issues. I’m sure a whole new generation of movie-goers haven’t seen “It Could Happen To You,” but if you did, let’s compare and contrast. The Nicolas Cage character in that film does win the lottery, but he doesn’t become spoiled like his wife Rosie Perez did. He manages to find a better connection with Bridget Fonda. The turning point threatens to take away their joy, but they manage to thrive on it in their own loving ways. And think about the ending of “It’s Wonderful Life.” Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey would have gone to prison, if his friends and neighbors didn’t donate all the missing money.
Those are two examples of when bad luck happens, good luck can turn things around. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” loves its title character, and it also loves her friends-current and new. And we, in return, love these characters.
Manville, in her first movie role since “Let Him Go,” is delightful in the ways she expresses herself as a strong woman, who refuses to take “no” for an answer, and distinguishes between nice and mean people. Thomas, Isaacs, Bravo, and Baptista, and Wilson all have their values as her friends, who all see the real diamonds inside Mrs. Harris. And Huppert does some good work as the bossy woman who’s more redeeming than some of the mean people the cleaning lady has crossed paths with.
Screenwriter/director Anthony Fabian provides some distinguishing qualities of what the story has to offer. It’s about the outcomes of what an ordinary woman can do inside a big world. I’m one of those people who believe it’s the little things that help make the big things, and so, I was supporting Mrs. Harris’s journey inside the Doir world. I’m no fashion guru, but this movie has a strong sense.