“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is the newest version of Paul Gallico’s popular and enduring 1958 novel about Ada Harris, a poor, widowed British cleaning woman who scrubs the floors of London on her hands and knees to sock away enough money to fulfill her dream of owning a priceless, authentically original Christian Dior gown before she dies. In its new incarnation, directed by Anthony Fabian, the fable comes to life again with the renewed vigor, energy and craft of the great character actress Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread), who brings her own set of dynamics to the role and scores a huge personal triumph.
Set in the late Fifties, the movie begins by showing the bland daily routine of a working-class domestic, leaving her modest flat every morning, joining her best friend on the bus on their way to underpaid and unappreciated jobs that offer few rewards and no future. But Mrs. Harris has a decency and a sense of humor that guarantee survival. Then one day, draped across a chair in the home of one of her most irritating and least favorite lady employers, she discovers a Dior gown so exquisite she has never seen anything more beautiful. Determined to buy one of her own, Ada scrimps and saves every sixpence, putting away a few quid here and there—from gambling on the lottery and the dog races, an unexpected profit for back pay on her late husband’s pension, a small award for finding a lost ring—anything that will add up to the 500 pounds required for her goal. (I told you it’s a fairy tale; today a week in Paris would cost you that much in taxi fares.) Eventually, with her earnings in small bills rolled up in an old purse, it’s off to the City of Light where a larky adventure awaits and the real movie begins.
From the Eiffel Tower to the flower markets in the Seine, the viewer gets the most rapturous tour of Paris since Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson made movie history in Funny Face.” -Rex Reed, The Observer
Oscar-nominated for: Best Costume Design