“We need our dreams—now more than ever.” There’s something about the indescribable way a film finds you precisely when you need it most, hitting you with the right amount of whatever it is you’re looking for, and magic starts to feel real. Focus Features’ latest cinematic gem, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, starring Lesley Manville, dazzles from start to finish while brimming with unparalleled hope. Though I haven’t read the novel, Anthony Fabian’s adaptation of Paul Gallico’s Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris is beautifully shot and carefully conducted to evoke hope through every frame.
Lesley Manville’s Ada Harris is the type of character who feels like home. There’s something so innately raw and kind about Manville’s performance that grounds the character’s ambitious desires. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris follows a relatively simple plot with the titular character going from London to Paris to buy an exclusive Christian Dior dress, but how the story unfolds to encapsulate the importance of following one’s dreams stands out gorgeously. “We need our dreams—now more than ever,” but the world also needed a film like this to remind them that pursuing dreams takes far more bravery than settling.
The film stands on the same wavelength as shows like Ted Lasso, which effortlessly set out to remind viewers that kindness goes a long way. And Mrs. Harris’ kindness is something else entirely as a cleaning lady who believes in nothing more than a fair fight where people treat others with the respect they deserve. Where the character goes from the moment we meet her to the final moments on screen is a result of her bold choices and innate, unceasing kindness. Her laughter is a balm to all those lucky enough to hear it, and her meddling proves to be a profoundly inspiring gift.
Characters like Mrs. Harris leave a lasting impression because they’re proof of the detail that good things come to those who are deserving. We live in a world that’s changing drastically every day, forcing us to feel either trapped or hopeless and wanting nothing more than to know that inherently good people have the blessings they deserve. The character feels like home because you either know someone like them or desperately want to. There’s nothing easier than looking at characters like Mrs. Harris and recognizing someone we know in them, hoping that the world sees their magic as closely as we do.
Ada Harris deserves the world, and in the end, she lives her dreams not by saving up enough money for a dress or flying for the first time to buy it but because as she watches another person suffer, she gives them everything to ensure they achieve their goals. She achieves her dreams by being a person worthy enough to fight for, allowing everyone around her to uplift her in a way that she deserves.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is also a film about signs and the people in the world who see another’s act of kindness as the greatest gift, prompting them to do everything in their power to step up when necessary. It’s a film about the importance of empathy and how belief can affect even the most jaded hearts. It’s about all the key players in our lives who see us in our hardships even when all we want to do is curl up in a bed and cry about the incisions and burns life leaves us with.
There’s no gift greater than kindness, but there’s a limit to it as well, which the film intrinsically touches on, honoring both the character and the story in the process. It’s this storyline that acts as a reminder of the fact that kindness cannot and shouldn’t be taken advantage of, allowing people to understand that there’s no shame in stepping back when another doesn’t reciprocate the respect necessary. It’s why Mrs. Harris’ meddling in Natasha’s (Alba Baptista) and Fauvel’s (Lucas Bravo) lives leads to romance and the bravery to pursue their dreams while she decides to no longer work for women like Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor) and Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams).
Where kindness and empathy meet halfway, there’s indescribable magic that fills the air, brimming with endless possibilities. The side relationships in the film brilliantly intertwine with the thematic message beautifully, crystalizing the detail that fighting for something bigger than ourselves matter. Whether that’s André’s dreams of expanding Dior or Natasha’s desire to retire modeling in pursuit of philosophy, to have someone in your corner who believes in you is more than enough. And Mrs. Harris believed not only in herself but every person she met, whether they deserved it or not, allowing the world to repay her kindness tenfold. In the end, she gets the dream dress and a night out dancing with friends who remind her that they see her—really and truly for all that she is and everything she could be.
And isn’t that what we all want more than anything? To be seen as we truly are and for what we’re capable of doing? Mrs. Harris is far more than a cleaning lady or a martyred war hero’s widow—she is a fighter. She keeps going even while the elite look down on her, putting all her eggs in one basket because she chooses to be a believer in a cruel, ever-changing world. Money talks, but the film fortifies the detail that kindness and belief scream even louder. Something remarkable happens when people see that others are willing to be good even while sincerity or love isn’t always deserved—love and belief become tangible entities as opposed to unseen feelings we’re desperately clinging to.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a film that intrinsically balances heart and humor while overtly making it clear that it’s never too late to fly towards your dreams. And no matter where we are in the world, this isn’t a message that ever gets tiring because someone somewhere will sit in the cinema, awe-struck and awaken to their core, finding themselves a little more hopeful than when they initially came in. Someone somewhere will watch this film and take a step towards the thing they want most, and if nothing else, there’s nothing more lovely than leaving a film inspired. To instill belief in viewers with wholesome, heartwarming storytelling is always the admirable way to go, and with a cast as lively as every key player here, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris hits every mark.
Gissane (pronounced Geese-enny) or, as people often call her, "Goose," is a Christ fan above all and a romance enthusiast who's taken her Master's degree in English and love for essays into writing lengthy analyses about pop culture.
She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Marvelous Geeks Media and the co-host of Lady Geeks' Society Podcast. She drinks too much coffee, wants to live in a forest, and cries a lot because of her favorite characters. She's a member of The Cherry Picks and can also be found writing features for Looper.