Mrs Harris Goes To Paris(Prime Video)
Rating: *** 1/2(three and a half)
The underrated monstrously gifted Lesley Manville is the life soul and breath of this enchanting nugget about a lonely British househelp woman(with two incredibly supportive friends) in London in 1957 who comes into some unexpected money. Instead of putting the fortune away for a rainy day Ada travels to Paris to buy herself an expensive Christian Dior dress.
It is a hideously inappropriate self indulgence for a woman in a recession-hit society where Ada loses her job quickly.Refreshingly Ada doesn’t sit and mourn. Not for long. Armed with the widow’s pension she sets off to chase a dream in the city of dreams Paris. It is terrific notion. To liberate a widow from her mourning straight to her evening of self-fulfilment in an era when action spoke louder than words and every action was targeted by moralists and prudes as a sign of sinful pleasure pursuit.
The images in the Christian Dior property in Paris are straight off a fairytale. If you are a couture fan, this film will thrill your aesthetics as much as they thrill Ada.All those divine dresses floating around Ada…she feels she is in a dream.
So do we. Director Anthony Fabian(loved his two early directorials Skin and Louder Than Words, especially the former) places Ada in a bubble of self-gratification. We are allowed neither to judge nor disapprove of her blithe choices in life.
That flaming-red Christian Dior dress is what she will have. Like watching a derby horse hoof it to the finishing line, we follow Ada’s dream right to its logical conclusion.There is something distinctly fairytale-like in the way Ada gets her dream dress. Although set during a time when society was in a flux there seems to be little here to disturb Ada’s dreamscape beyond the initial shock of being declared a war widow. But that too comes with a price, in a good a way, as Ada gets a widow’s pension that makes her fly off into her dream.
Seen as a fairytale, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris is as charming as Cinderella on a flight instead of a stagecoach. In Paris she meets only gracious helpful people who help her realize her dream. There is the legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert playing the spoilsport. But even she purrs like a cat before too long.
This is a charming dream-come-true film shot with restrain grace and feeling.