In a world where I am frequently eagerly anticipating the next big blockbuster that is promising to blow me out of my seat it is refreshing sometimes to see a quieter more gentle film that slowly allows you to fall in love with it. Call me a softy but Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris peaked my interest as soon as I saw a trailer for it. Maybe it was because it felt so sweet and innocent yet so intriguing or perhaps it was the Paris setting, I’m not sure exactly what drew me to the film so much but now that I have watched it I can tell you that it certainly lived up to my expectations.

Directed by Anthony Fabian (Skin) and based on a novel by Paul Galico (who just happened to write one of my favourite novels of all time – The Poseidon Adventure) the film begins with dutiful Ada Harris (Lesley Manville – Maleficent) going about her daily business in post-War London of cleaning other people’s homes. Some are nice to her, some couldn’t survive without her while others ‘use’ her without even having the decency to pay her.

No matter what the day has been like though Ada gets throughout happy with the knowledge that night will see her have a quiet drink at her local bar with her two best friends – fellow cleaner Violet Butterfield (Ellen Thomas – Johnny English Reborn) and the ever helpful bookie Archie (Jason Isaacs – Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets). Both would do anything for Ada especially due to the fact that her husband never returned from the War and she is reluctant to let him go.

Ada’s life changes forever though when she happens to see the Christian Dior gown of one of her clients. For Ada it is love at first sight and she instantly dreams of owning one one day even though they come with the hefty price-tag of five hundred pounds and it is constantly pointed out to her that she would have nowhere to wear it.

She begins saving and then after a small windfall scrapes together enough to head to Paris. Although upon her arrival she finds that buying from Dior is not just like walking into a department store. Suddenly she finds herself confronted by the mean-spirited Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Huppert – Elle) who refuses to allow her to be served at Dior. Then there are the other customers who feels that Ada is ‘beneath’ the class of people that expect to see at Dior.

This soon leads to her own adventure in which she finds herself befriending Dior’s Head Model, Natasha (Alba Baptista – Patrick), Dior’s Head Of Finance, Andre Fauvel (Lucas Bravo – Emily In Paris) and the mysterious Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson – The Matrix Revolutions).

I found myself falling in love with Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris over and over as I was watching it. Sure the plot itself was simple but Fabian’s screenplay, which he co-wrote with Carroll Cartwright (What Maisie Knew), never allows the audience to get to comfortable. There is no way I could ever say that this script becomes predictable because despite its gentle nature it does repeatedly throw in curve-balls that you simply don’t see coming. I’ll be honest about halfway through this film I thought I knew how each character’s storylines were going to end up but I was wrong on so many levels.

Like so many films before it the central theme of Mrs Harris Goes To Paris is to never give up on your goals or dreams despite what obstacles life throws in your way. But this film also goes a lot deeper than that as it explores the class system and even looks at worker’s rights. While watching this film is very much an enjoyable experience it is very hard not to find yourself getting angry at how some of the other characters treat Ada throughout. And yes there are even times when you will find yourself getting frustrated at some of the decisions that Ada makes… but of course the filmmakers are gifted enough to bring you back to her side very, very quickly.

The thing that I think I noticed most about this film is that while it is largely a British film it does have a very French feel to it. A lot of the more humorous moments of the film are more what you would expect from a modern day French comedy rather than the black comedy that so often seeps into English films. Likewise the way the film tackles things such as worker’s rights without ever being preachy.

I found Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris to be a gem of a film. It drew me in with characters that you couldn’t help fall in love with and kept me guessing throughout. It is a beautifully written film made even better by strong performances throughout.

3.5/5 Stars