In “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” Lesley Manville returns to the world of excessive style in a reversal of her Oscar-nominated function in “Phantom Thread.” Her deliciously frigid character in that movie — the forbidding supervisor of a British style home and foe to Vicky Krieps’s lowborn muse — would go catatonic have been Manville’s Mrs. Ada Harris to waltz into the becoming room, asking for a “frock” along with her cockney drawl.
Unsurprisingly, the formidable Manville pulls off the switcheroo, instilling her function because the genial cleansing girl with a tenderness and style that far surpasses the feel-good pish-posh that’s the movie round her.
Directed by Anthony Fabian, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” trades in an identical type of British coziness because the “Paddington” films, although it’s not as zany or humorous.
Mrs. Harris, a widow toiling away within the service of the postwar London elite, has her eyes set on a customized Dior robe and, after a collection of lucky occasions, heads to Paris to retrieve the garment of her desires. Regardless of having discovered the money, our heroine should deal with the menacing Madame Colbert (Isabelle Huppert) and the snooty mores of the biz and its patrons.
For the opposite world-weary staff — the kindly, philosophizing mannequin Natasha (Alba Baptista), the lovesick accountant André (Lucas Bravo) — Mrs. Harris proves single-handedly that the foundations of society aren’t essentially ironclad. If a humble maid can get her arms on a costume that prices 600 kilos, what’s stopping Natasha from pursuing an mental life, or André from revolutionizing the corporate to attraction to ladies from all walks of life?
The trope of the laughably frumpy employee bee, full of optimism and quiet knowledge, is demeaning, and Mrs. Harris’s iteration is not any exception. Regardless of its gleeful showcasing of lovely garments and vibrant midcentury Parisian sights, the movie is caught between its fantasies and its ideas, touchdown someplace extra annoyingly clueless — and boring — than it should be.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Rated PG. Operating time: 1 hour 55 minutes. In theaters.