After watching “The Batman,” I was convinced that I wouldn’t see a better movie released this year. While walking from my car into the theater, I even texted my friend that I was about to see “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” to review it, but was a bit skeptical about it.
But honestly, it was one of the most delightful movies I’ve seen in years.
What is ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’ about?
Mrs. Harris is employed as a cleaner in England. She and her best friend Vi go to the pub at night and Ada Harris finally opens up the letter about her husband: he was killed in the war. Life seems dreary for Ada until she sees a Christian Dior dress on the chair of the lady whose house she cleans. Soon she hatches up a plan of how she will raise enough funds to travel to Paris, France, and buy a Dior dress. The movie follows her journey to Paris and describes how her influence on the house of Dior changes everything.
Directed by Anthony Fabian, Lesley Manville stars as Mrs. Ada Harris in this film. Ellen Thomas plays the character Vi Butterfield and other actors include Jason Isaacs, Alba Baptista, and Christian McKay.
What did I like about ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’?
The best way that I can describe it is as a not-fluffy fairy tale.
The first thing that I noticed about the movie was the use of colors and lighting. London is filmed as a dreary place. Even when it’s not raining in the movie, it feels like it should be raining. The characters wear more muted colored clothes and the atmosphere seems heavier.
But when Mrs. Harris actually goes to Paris, the colors become bright. Almost like a dream, the movie’s atmosphere completely shifts and this is a captivating artistic choice. The magic of Paris and Christian Dior comes to life, but the glamour of Paris is artfully juxtaposed with Mrs. Harris herself.
While the movie is set around Mrs. Harris’ desire to get a Christian Dior dress, complex themes permeate the movie — Mrs. Harris realizing her self-worth, her friendship with Vi and her experience with grief. There are characters that you go from strongly disliking to having deep empathy for and artistic choices that posit questions about materialism and existentialism, as well as a theme about the search for love, which all make this movie deeply interesting and thought-provoking.
My impression before watching it was that it would be “fluffy” — I thought I would like it, but that it would be devoid of substance. I was wrong. From start to finish, I felt a wide range of complex emotions. I became deeply invested in the characters and cried tears of sadness and of joy. The movie made me laugh, it transported me back to the first time that I bought an expensive dress, but most importantly, it made me think about what matters most to me and what my purpose is.
It is not only a good movie in the sense that it’s fun to watch, but it is a great movie in the sense that it is emotionally moving.
It reminded me of one of the major themes of the 2015 film “Cinderella” — “Have courage and be kind.” The trope of a fairy godmother is reimagined in this movie, and if you like fairy tales, this one will likely enchant you, too.
Is Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris family-friendly?
Absolutely. It’s rated PG and probably better for older children because it touches on more complex subjects like the philosophy of Sartre and the French political situation in ways that might be difficult for younger children to follow. In many ways, however, it’s a great family movie.
One of the themes that I most appreciated was the idea of hope and that dreams can become real. This movie models healthy friendships and encourages everyone to care a little more deeply about one another. It’s the type of movie that I wish I could go see with my own mom. It’s the perfect type of movie to watch with your daughters because it’s not just a movie about finding the perfect dress, it’s a movie about knowing your self-worth as a woman.
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is available to stream on Amazon Prime and for rent/buy.