Mrs Harris Goes to Paris (2022)
An audience-pleasing film to complete our season and the sun even shone for us. Mrs Harris Goes to Paris was a sell-out and deservedly so. As well as enjoying the main feature, our discussion group felt the shorts, which gave an insight into Dior’s history, really added to their understanding of the film. The Dior gowns were really pieces of art, beautifully designed and put together.
Our larger than usual discussion group picked up the threads (sorry). The film, we felt was creative, “fabulously fictitious” and not sentimental. It gave us a glimpse into a post-War world. It shouldn’t be unpicked (sorry) as a true-life story but be seen as a fable.
Mrs Harris, a cleaning lady and a widow, is the epitome of goodness and kindness. At times she sacrifices things she cares about for the greater good. She shows female strength and the ability of an ordinary person to change things that are unfair. We immediately connect with her as she follows her ambition to own a Dior gown from the atelier in Paris. We follow her as she grows and heals and finds what is right for her. In the process, she makes friends from across classes, always speaking the truth and bringing about change.
Our group also saw messages in the film about hope and about living in a community. The political moments gave us some food for thought. Did the strike, with rubbish in the streets, really happen, or did that help contrast reality with the beauty of inside the Dior salon? We liked the moments where existentialism was discussed!
Some great actors were chosen. Isabelle Huppert gave the role of Mrs Colbert from Dior many layers and her performance was praised by our group. Of course, Lesley Manville was just brilliant and we talked about some of her other performances – my favourite one was WS Gilbert’s wife in ‘Topsy Turvy.’
We liked the ethnic representation in the bus scene even if we weren’t sure if Vi, Mrs Harris’ African-Caribbean friend, should have been partnered with the only black guy in the dance hall at the end. But we understood it was 1957 and different times.
Was this film sugar-coated? Perhaps it was but we need this sometimes. It celebrated the woman’s body and the beauty and skills within haute-couture fashion. Above all, it highlighted the importance of good values and kindness. We went home very happy.