Mrs Harris goes to Paris (2022)

A sweet film is the best I can write about Mrs Harris goes to Paris (2022). Public opinion seems much more complimentary.

The film is “garnering positive reviews” ( and took more than $4m in its first fortnight’s release in the US. This against a budget of $9m and before being released in the United Kingdom and France. It’s going to make some people a lot of money.

This conflicts with my reckoning. It was twee; full of ridiculous coincidental meetings; and it made the French mostly seem like considerate and good people (which they are but the generalisation is they are rude) but it was harmless. 

Going to the movies to be entertained is fraught with problems these days. This reviewer prefers his humour black, and the darker shade of that is favoured. But to get the necessary noir usually involves random killings and the more bizarre the more effective. Think Tarantino and Guy Ritchie.

It’s an unhealthy mindset but it’s the intention of the filmmakers to make these things funny and I laugh heartily.

(Like Colin Farrell holding up four fingers after he has just killed two Russian mobsters in The Gentlemen (2019). The digits indicate that the previous number of favours (two) he has done Charlie Hunnam to square up for a previous transgression has now doubled. It’s Farrell’s bemused facial expression that made me laugh so much). Seeing this doesn’t make me go out and shoot two hoodlums but it must affect some people in a bad way?

Comedy-romances like Mrs Harris goes to Paris aren’t funny in my book. They are sweet and probably good for you. But do they entertain? Some love ‘em like this, others are appalled at the saccharine saturation.

Ada Harris (Lesley Manville) is a cleaning woman in 1957 London. It is 13 years since her husband went missing during World War II. Until receiving a small parcel from the Royal Air Force indicating his actual death, she still believes he is coming back.

This sets in train a chance encounter with an original Dior gown; an aspiration to own one; hard work to gain it; and windfall income to make it a reality. Then Mrs Harris goes to Paris.

Through extraordinary circumstance and blissful naïveté she gets into Dior’s reception area for his 1957 collection; avoids being emptied from the building; shows them the cash she has on her (the fashion house is in financial straits so this is welcome); gains a white knight in some titled Frenchy (Lambert Wilson) and picks out the design she best likes.

This is the best part of the film as the fashion parade is given good screen time and the dresses paraded are the designer’s style and of the era. Were they Dior’s 1957 collection or a composite of his best work? I shall leave others to divine this. 

Mrs Harris has to stay a fortnight to have her fitting. She becomes a staple of the Dior fashion house, loved by nearly everyone in the building; she is given free accommodation by Dior’s financial officer Andre (Lucas Bravo); told she can wear his sister’s clothes (conveniently away for the time); further endears herself to model Natasha (Alba Baptista); tries to set her up with Andre; and engages in a not-to-be romance with Le Duc.

Ada goes home with a dress only to have it ruined when she good heartedly loans it to one of her clients (Pamela Penrose), a sort of Diana Dors wannabe. Not a high aspiration but of its time. 

Dior to the rescue. Reading of the gown’s ruination and prospering from the publicity, the fashion house sends the original gown ordered by Ada. This has been let go by the awful Madame Avallon (Claudine Londez), whose husband gets jailed after a successful strike by Paris rubbish collectors. 

Like Cinderella going to the ball, Mrs Harris wears the new gown down the steep staircase of Battersea Town Hall and into the waiting arms of Archie (Jason Isaacs), who is referred to as a bookie but appears to be a clerk for a betting joint operating at White City dogs. However, he has a heart of gold, is a good dancer and sees more than just the beautiful dress in his dancing partner.

… and they all lived happily ever after.


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