Hardworking Mrs Harris (Lesley Manville) is a wonderful cleaner who takes pride in her work. She lives a frugal life in London while hoping and praying for her husband’s return from the war. When she finally finds the courage to open a letter she learns that her husband has died. For a moment it seems that all her hopes for happiness have died with him.
While cleaning the house of a wealthy Lady who routinely fails to pay her wages, Mrs. Harris comes across the most beautiful dress she has ever seen. She soon learns that it is a Christian Dior and that it costs a small fortune. Despite this, she determines that she must buy one for herself.
While saving every penny she can, Mrs Harris receives a surprise visit from an officer who tells her she is entitled to years of war widow back pay. She feels that her husband is somehow helping her find a way to get to France and find the dress of her dreams.
In Paris, a Christian Dior fashion show is underway. After making a scene about the injustice of being treated unfairly in front of the high class clientele, Mrs Harris is invited by a Marquis to watch the show as his guest. Here she falls in love with a gorgeous gown. She’s prevented from having the gown by a vindictive woman who was offended by having to sit next to someone from a lower class.
Meanwhile, word of Mrs Harris has travelled through the House of Christian Dior and all the employees are honoured, amazed and inspired by the courage of Mrs Harris – who saved every penny to buy a dress meant only for the very wealthy; who refused to be cast aside; and who, even when treated poorly, showed nothing but kindness and calm.
While waiting for her dress to be fitted and sewn Mrs. Harris weaves her magic on all those around her, including helping the accountant, Andre (Lucas Bravo), and the brilliant model, Natasha (Alba Baptista), find love where they least expect it.
It is Mrs. Harris's dream that brings her to Paris but she returns home with so much more than a dress. Along the way she begins to believe that anything is possible. She wins the respect and admiration of some of the most influential and important people in Paris and she shows the world that no kind deed ever goes unrewarded.
Social segregation in relation to class; vanity; being seen only as you outwardly appear and not for who you truly are.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some violence. For example:
- Mrs. Harris is told how her husband was killed during the war.
- A taxi driver nearly knocks a man off his bike and almost collides with a motorcycle in his haste to get where he is going.
- A character smashes a widow to get into Mrs Harris’s house to see if she’s ok.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some sexual references. For example:
- Young women are seen daily leaving the house of a man whose house Mrs. Harris cleans. He introduces them as his nieces, but it is obvious that they are his mistresses.
- The same man says of Mrs Harris: ‘She is the soul of discretion. You would never know she has been but for the polish on my knobs’. His lady friend is momentarily scandalised by the comment.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some use of substances. For example:
- Characters drink in a pub.
- Some homeless men offer Mrs Harris a drink from a bottle in a paper bag. She initially declines but then decides to try it.
- Champagne is served in a restaurant and characters have drinks with dinner.
- Mrs Harris goes out for an evening with the Marquis and, after numerous drinks, wakes up the next morning completely hung over.
- A character offers Mrs Harris red wine and another shares a drink with her on the stairs.
- Some characters smoke.
Nudity and sexual activity
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Mrs. Harris is taken to a show where the women strip down to tiny black panties with fishnet tights and skimpy brassieres with tassels on the front. They provocatively dance with shirtless men on stage.
- Natasha kisses a famous actor.
- Andre and Natasha kiss.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some product placement. For example, the entire film revolves around Haute Couture and the House of Christian Dior.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a comedy drama set in 1950’s Paris. It is a charming, well cast film with plenty of positive messages about the power of dreams, the importance of self-respect and the value of being seen, especially when you are often invisible. The film will best be enjoyed by mature audiences or families with older children.
These are the main messages from Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris:
- Even those who are invisible have dreams.
- Some dreams are more powerful than fairy tales.
- The world needs dreamers now more than ever.
Values in Mrs Harris Goes to Paris that you could reinforce with your children include kindness, industriousness, self-respect, assertiveness, compassion and friendship.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like:
- treating people poorly because of their job or social standing
- putting too much emphasis on material things
- looking only at the outside of a person, at what they look like or what they wear, and not seeing them for who they truly are
- accepting drinks from a stranger.