Fashion fades; kindness is eternal – “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”
Updated: Jan 9
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
The extraordinarily versatile Lesley Manville plays Mrs. Ada Harris, a meek cleaning lady who goes to Paris to buy a Christian Dior evening gown.
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“MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy; 2022; PG for suggestive material, profanity, and smoking; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: Gag reel
PERHAPS “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is the fairytale of a movie we need in these troubled times. For some, however, it may be just a bit too forced, contrived, and saccharine to provide any sort of relief. Either way, this remake of the 1958 novel by Paul Gallico (whose title was actually “Mrs. ’arris Goes to Paris”) is an escape into a happy fantasy, in which a humble domestic worker realizes her outrageous dream – and then some.
Directed by Anthony Fabian, the film stars the great and extraordinarily versatile Lesley Manville (“Another Year”; “Topsy Turvey”; “Phantom Thread”), as well as the brilliant Isabelle Huppert (too many fine French movies to name).
Manville plays Ada, a meek cleaning lady, whose unrealistic hopes for her beloved soldier husband’s overdo return from the war are dashed when a telegram confirms his death. Meanwhile, in one of the grand homes where she works, Ada sees an extravagant haute couture Christian Dior evening gown. She’s so smitten with it, she determines to find a way to go to Paris, so she can buy one for herself. And, by George, thanks to some of her kind, eccentric friends, including Violet (Ellen Thomas) and Archie (Jason Isaacs) – and an absurd amount of good luck – Ada accumulates the cash to make it happen. Naturally, there are some roadblocks once she gets to Paris, including Mme. Colbert (Huppert), a snide, haughty assistant to Dior, who looks at Ada as though she smells something rotten, and has no inclination to help the dowdy woman. But Ada manages to endear herself to the fashion house’s top model, Natasha (Alba Baptista), and the firm’s handsome young accountant, André (Lucas Bravo), as well as a wealthy widower, the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson).
(1) Ada and fellow houseworker Violet Butterfield (Ellen Thomas) ride the bus together to their first cleaning job of the day. (2&3) Ada helps her second client, an inspiring actress Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams) get to her audition. (4) Ada spots the extravagant haute couture Christian Dior evening gown and dreams of having one for herself. (5) Archie (Jason Isaacs) a friend of Ada gives her money back after she made a bad bet at a dog racetrack.
A hundred implausible and clichéd plot points later, and … well, you can probably guess how it turns out. But, thanks to costume designer Jenny Beavan, Luciana Arrighi’s production design, and Felix Wiedemann’s cinematography, among other talented crew members, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is fun to watch … as are the always deft performances by Manville and Huppert.
Fabian and Wiedemann used the French romantic musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964) as their inspiration for the visual look with its camera movements and framing. They used the 4.5K ARRI Alexa LF camera and anamorphic lens (2.39:1 aspect ratio) for a limited field of focus. The majority of the on-location scenes were captured in Budapest, Hungary, subbing nicely for Paris. The onscreen results are striking on 4K digital and on the 1080p disc.
The 2K digital intermediate was coded in HDR10 for its theatrical and home 4K digital viewing, and standard dynamic range for HD and SD viewing. The HDR grading gives the costumes more visual pop with deeper saturated colors, and midtones and shadows to extract the varying shades and true-to-life skin tones. A post-production film grain was applied, with the 4K providing a more refined structure for the grain.
The Blu-ray provides the uncompressed six-channel DTS-HD for a fuller soundstage compared to the slightly compressed digital presentation with Rael Jones soundtrack. The dialogue is always crisp and intelligible, with English subtitles provided for both French and English words.
The bonus features are meager at best, with a few very brief deleted and extended scenes, the longest being a performance by what is meant to be burlesque in Paris’ famous Folies Bergère. The gag reel, also quite short, is at least good for a few chuckles, mostly when Manville flubs or forgets her lines.
— Peggy Earle
Mrs. Harris arrives in Paris
(1&2) Ada gets a personal escort to the Christian Dior house in Paris. (3) Wealthy widower, the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson) invites Mrs. Harris to join him during the Dior fashion show. (4&5) The fashion house’s top model, Natasha (Alba Baptista), and the other models spot Marquis de Chassagne with Ada Harris. (6&7) Natasha wears a beautiful Dior dress and hat as Marquis de Chassagne and Ada approve. “Oh, will you look,” says Mrs. Harris.
(1) Ada is fitted for her elegant gown, as Mme. Colbert (Huppert) and other Dior employees observe. (2) During a night on the town with the Marquis, Ada attends the Folies Bergère for some burlesque. (3) Behind the scenes at Dior.
(4) Ada is invited to the Marquis' home for tea. (5) Ada and André Fauvel (Lucus Bravo) chat as they stroll along the Seine. (6) Her matchmaking of Natasha and André a success, Ada visits with her French friend at the train station. (7) Back in England, Violet and Archie watch Ada make an entrance at the local dancehall. (8) Ada, radiant in her dream Dior dress, agrees to dance with Archie.