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Blu-ray Review: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Collector’s Edition)

September 26, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A housecleaner dreams of owning a Christian Dior gown in the delightful Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, which has to be one of the nicest cinematic surprises of the year.

Ada Harris (Lesley Manville) is a war widow who is just making ends meet as a cleaner and seamstress in 1950s London. When she becomes enchanted by a Dior dress that she sees hanging in the home of one of her rich clients (Anna Chancellor), she starts saving her money for a trip to Paris so she can buy one of her own.

The active nature of the film’s title lets us know that she will get to France, but the journey includes a variety of successes and setbacks. Mrs. Harris ends up having to stay in Paris for at least a week while she is fitted for the dress, where she bumps into a variety of characters that both help and hinder her in her goal.

There’s Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert), who serves as the director of the House of Dior and acts as elite gatekeeper for the rich clientele; the young accountant André (Lucas Bravo), who has his own ideas for reinvigorating the flagging company; and the French model Natasha (Alba Baptista), who would rather be reading the work of Sartre and other existentialists. Back in London, Mrs. Harris has her best friend Violet (Ellen Thomas), as well as Archie (Jason Isaacs), the attractive gentleman who has asked her for a dance at the legion hall.

Directed by Anthony Fabian, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is an example of a film that does almost exactly what we expect it to do, but does it extremely well. The screenplay (co-written by Fabian and adapted from Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, which has been adapted for TV twice before) nicely sets up a series of conflicts involving its colourful cast of characters, and blossoms in some lovely ways to offer several deeply satisfying payoffs. 

The film is carried by an utterly charming performance from Manville, who captures the genuine joie de vivre that Mrs. Harris exudes. She portrays her as a working woman who chooses to keep her chin up as a way to not get bogged down by a lifetime of disappointment and grief, while revealing bittersweet moments when she lets regret seep in. That the relatively simple stakes of the story feel so engaging is a testament to the likability of Manville’s performance, making the title character’s longing for her own piece of haute couture feel genuinely relatable and never completely frivolous.

We not only root for Mrs. Harris to get the dress, but enjoy doing so, and find ourselves sharing her frustration when things don’t go right. The story is brought to the screen with fine attention to period details, including the impeccable costumes by three-time Oscar-winner Jenny Beaven, who recreates classic Dior gowns. It’s a good old fashioned feel-good movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray includes a few short bonus features. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package, which ships with a slipcover.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (Play All – 4 minutes, 24 seconds): Two brief moments clipped from the final cut, followed by a full version of the dinner cabaret performance seen in the film.

Ada Rushes Toward the Metro (25 seconds)

Ada Wants to Speak to André (22 seconds)

Full Cabaret (3 minutes, 36 seconds)

Gag Reel (5 minutes, 14 seconds): A classic gag reel made enjoyable thanks to the charming cast.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 115 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: September 6th, 2022

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