Mrs Harris Goes to Paris review – Lesley Manville trades her duster for Dior in feelgood froth

Manville and Isabelle Huppert are wasted in this tale of a 1950s London cleaner determined to buy a couture dress

A feelgood fairytale about a middle-aged woman, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is the kind of heartwarming, escapist celebration of the concept of shopping yourself happy that should be prescribed along with HRT patches. Unfortunately, undeniably likable as it is, for all its sparkly charm and mangled chunks of Sartrean philosophy, it’s just not especially good.

The incomparable Lesley Manville stars, giving a chirpy “cor lummy” performance that feels so far beneath her talents she practically needs a JCB to excavate down to it. She plays Ada Harris, a big-hearted cleaner from Battersea, south London, a character patchworked together from bits of Vera Drake and some jellied eels, who decides to follow her dream – of buying a couture gown from Dior’s atelier in Paris. There she encounters the frosty Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Huppert, another criminally underused talent), the gatekeeper of taste who does her best to keep the hoi polloi at bay. Fortunately, Ada’s down-to-earth appeal disarms the rest of Paris. It’s unabashed froth, as substantial as a tulle skirt. And perhaps that’s exactly what we need right now.

Watch a trailer for Mrs Harris Goes to Paris.


Wendy Ide

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris review – Lesley Manville charms in light soufflé
The Oscar nominee is on reliably excellent form in a sweet-natured Cinderella tale about a cleaner on a mission to buy a Dior dress

Benjamin Lee

14, Jul, 2022 @6:13 AM

Article image
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris review – Lesley Manville is terrific in Mary Poppins-ish fun
Manville is utterly convincing as a wide-eyed chirpy cleaner who comes into money and sets her heart on a Dior dress in this 1950s-set charmer

Peter Bradshaw

29, Sep, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Ordinary Love review – Manville and Neeson excel in joyous heartbreaker
Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson are note-perfect in Owen McCafferty’s profoundly moving drama

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

08, Dec, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
The Shrine & Bed Among the Lentils review – silent screams from Monica Dolan and Lesley Manville
The wide-open space of the Bridge is commanded with riveting intimacy in this Talking Heads double bill

Susannah Clapp

13, Sep, 2020 @9:30 AM

Article image
Valley of Love review – grief encounter
Huppert and Dépardieu get metaphysical as separated parents mourning their son

Wendy Ide

14, Aug, 2016 @7:00 AM

Article image
Souvenir review – nul points for Huppert
Isabelle Huppert fails to convince as a former Eurovision singer who’s persuaded to return to the stage

Wendy Ide

25, Jun, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Things to Come review – Isabelle Huppert is note-perfect
Huppert’s warm, wry performance as an academic facing a crisis at home powers Mia Hansen-Løve’s intimate, intellectual film

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

04, Sep, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
Elle review – revenge of an ice queen
Isabelle Huppert is astonishing as a rape victim who tracks down her assailant in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative psychodrama

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

12, Mar, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
Louder Than Bombs review – a quiet tale of battlefields at home and abroad
Isabelle Huppert is mesmerising as a war photographer whose death leaves her family struggling to cope in Joachim Trier’s wistful drama

Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

24, Apr, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
EO review – the bold and the bray from veteran Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski
A circus donkey embarks on a long, lonely journey, meeting human kindness and cruelty, in this strangely beautiful Oscar contender

Mark Kermode

05, Feb, 2023 @8:00 AM