Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris Movie Review

Dreams are a wonderful thing. But without work, faith, and a little hope, they remain a distant fantasy.

The new film, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, is based on the book, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, by Paul Gallico. Set in Britain in the late 1950s, Ada Harris (Lesley Manville) is a middle-aged woman that, for the most part, goes unnoticed. After losing her late husband in World War II, she earns her living cleaning houses. Among her clients are wannabe starlet Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams) and Lady Daunt (Anna Chancellor). Both see her, but neither truly appreciates her.

When the workday is done, she goes to the local pub to have a drink with pals Archie (Jason Isaacs) and Vi (Ellen Thomas). While working at Lady Daunt’s one day, she discovers a Dior gown and falls in love with it. The cost of the gown is obviously well beyond Ada’s meager paycheck.

After scrimping and saving (and with a little luck), she finally has the funds to afford the dress and travel to Paris. She expects to just pick up the dress and return home in a day. That plan derails the moment she enters the building. The first barrier is the directress and gatekeeper Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert). The second impediment is the 1% clients who are not happy that they have to compete with a British cleaning lady of all people.

But Ada is not alone. Among her new allies is the company accountant André Fauvel (Lucas Bravo), lead model Natasha (Alba Baptista), and a possible new love interest, the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson).

Visually, this film is a feast for the eyes. It is a trip back in time that is half a Cinderella story, and half a narrative about a woman who achieves the impossible on her own terms. Ada is an everywoman who has a pollyannaish perspective that does not go too far into naivete or pie-in-the-sky beliefs. I love that she learns to stand up for herself and believe in herself when many would either look down on her or walk past her without seeing her.

My only complaint is that a good twenty minutes could have been cut and the movie would have been just as good.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is presently in theaters.

Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 1 Recap: Sex, Poor Edith And A Hint Of Jane Austen

Like all recaps, these posts contain spoilers from last night’s episode. Read at your own risk if you have not see the episode.

Upstairs

Julian Fellows continues with his semi-sadistic hatred of Edith. The episode opens with Edith bicycling over to the Drewe farm to see her baby girl, who is being raised by Mr. and Mrs. Drewe. While Mrs. Drewe has swallowed the story about Marigold’s “dead” parents, Mr. Drewe knows more than he lets on.  Back at the Abbey, Mrs. Hughes finds a book with Michael Gregson’s name written in it. At the end of the episode, she nearly burns the house down, when, in grief, she throws one of the letters from Michael into the fireplace, but it misses the mark.

Robert and Cora’s 34th wedding anniversary is fast approaching, but Robert is blase about the fact. What starts as a simple anniversary dinner with the family nearly turns into a rumble when Rose invites Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis), the schoolteacher from the village, who Tom met last season. Miss Bunting is not shy about sharing her political views, especially her approval of The Labour Party and the leader, Ramsay MacDonald.

While Charles Blake has yet to appear this season, Tony Gilllingham is back and still pursuing Mary with a vengeance. His latest scheme is trying to convince her to go away with him for a few days. He even goes so far as to boldly enter her bedroom when she is only in her dressing gown. We all know what happens to single men who dare to enter Lady Mary’s room.

Tom has not yet completely warmed up to the idea that he is part of the family. The mere presence of Sarah Bunting re-awakens his old political ideas. I have a feeling that Tom will be doing a balancing act this series between his former self and his present self.

We see briefly, the youngest and cutest members of the Crawley family, Sybbie and George. Sybbie’s nickname for her grandfather is donk. All together now, awwww.

And finally, Violet is playing matchmaker, a la Mrs. Bennet. Her co-conspirator is Lady Shackelton (Harriet Walter, Fanny in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility) The person she is matching for is Isobel. The the two men are Dr. Clarkson and Lord Merton. While Isobel tried to gently turn them both down last series, I have a feeling that Dr. Clarkson may need to up his game if his competition is a peer of the realm.

Downstairs

In this week’s mid life crisis moment, Mr.  Molesley tries to impress Miss Baxter by putting dye into his hair and trying to cover his slow balding. The person who notices is not his intended target, but Robert, who asks if Mr. Molesley is Latin.

Speaking of Miss Baxter, we know something of her secret. In an effort to get the monkey known as Thomas off her back, Miss Baxter tells Cora that she stole jewelery from a previous employer and was in jail for three years. When Thomas tries to tell Cora, she reads him the riot act (Go Cora!). But then Thomas saves Edith from death by asphyxiation from the fire and is the hero once again.

Daisy is convinced that because of all of the years she has spent in the kitchen, she has missed out on years of school and has an urge to return to schoolroom. Mrs. Patmore does not agree with her.

Bates and Anna are back to their pre-rape relationship. In fact, I think, if he would have, Bates would have taken his wife home for a little private time. But it is only the first episode, so we may see another roller coaster that is the married life of John and Anna Bates soon enough.

Jimmy’s old employer and Downton’s newest cougar, Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor, Caroline in the 1995 miniseries and a descendant of Edward Austen, one of Jane Austen’s brother’s) has come to Downton for obvious reasons. And it’s not just for visiting Cora.

And finally, Mr. Carson is appointed to lead the committee to build a war memorial in the village. The traditional choice has always been the Earl and not his butler. The times, they are a changing.

Analysis: First episodes of any season usually require some catching up (not that we need it), but it felt like it was a little too much re-hashing of the end of last season. But it is only the first episode, so only time will tell.

Dowager Quote Of The Week

Lady Shackelton: Of course, a single peer with a good estate won’t be lonely for long if he wants to be.

Lady Grantham: You sound like Mrs. Bennet.

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