Not too often do we have a 40-something-year-old cleaning lady as the lead in a movie, but director/co-writer Anthony Fabian manages a sweet and entertaining tale of kindness and determination. Best yet, however, is the delightful cast, led by the talented Lesley Manville, that makes Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris a delightful romp through the 1950s. While there are notable foibles in realism – everything, including disparities of race and class, pass through Fabian’s sugary-sweet story – it does entertain and amuse.

Based on Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, follows Mrs. Ada Harris, a war widow, who lives alone and who cleans houses for snobby, ungrateful clients. Ada sets her site on getting a one-of-a-kind Christian Dior dress to wear to the local veteran’s social and dance. Through a series of misadventures with money, she finally saves the 500 pounds necessary to purchase the fancy frock of her dreams and she sets out for Paris to shop at the exclusive House of Dior in France’s enchanting capital. While there, she encounters helpful and not-so-helpful people.

Manville shines and brings a delightful sense of humor to the tale. She is perfect as Mrs. Harris and easily carries the film with her understated elegance. Still, she doesn’t really have to because of the exceptional ensemble cast. At Dior, Ada is quickly rejected by the master’s principal woman (Isabelle Huppert), only to just as quickly win over everyone at the house with her forthright warmth and simple charm. Mrs. Harris’ plight can be summed up in the words of her friend and bookie (Jason Isaacs) – “You’re a dreamer. Plain as the nose on your face.” While there are challenges, her newfound friends Natasha (Alba Baptista) and Andre (Lucas Bravo) help her achieve her goal, and in turn, she helps them. Even the less than sympathetic characters push Ada forward and guide her success and perseverance. As ironic as it seems, Mrs. Harris “comes of age,” and her story reveals the good and the not-so-good in people. More than that, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a fairytale with a middle-aged protagonist that works to inspire and encourage. Ada Harris proves that it is never too late to dream and never too late to live your best life. I am putting up 4 stars for Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, not 5 because of the

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