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We could all use a little escapism right now, especially when the escapism in question is as thoroughly enjoyable as Anthony Fabian’s “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” starring the beaming Lesley Manville as the cleaning lady from London who travels to Paris to shop for a dress. It’s not just any dress – it’s haute couture from the House of Christian Dior, the kind of dress that can change a life, and in this case, change many.

London, 1957. Ada Harris (Manville), a humble woman who makes a living cleaning up behind others, is waiting for her Eddie, who has not yet returned from the war. She has a neat basement apartment, a friend Vi (Ellen Thomas) with whom she rides the bus and shares port with lemon after work in the pub, and a passing interest in the dashing Archie (Jason Isaacs), who always seems to be dancing with someone other.

Her clients take her for granted, but Ada is a woman who believes in signs and serendipity, and soon the messages from the universe are too numerous to ignore. First a package containing Eddie’s ring and a letter stating that he was officially killed in action, his plane was shot down in 1944. Then a widow’s pension, a reward for turning in a diamond pin, and a sports bet that manages to go the right way, thanks to a little help from her friends. She knows exactly where this unexpected stroke of luck will take her after falling under the spell of a sparkling pink Dior dress in the closet of one of her more difficult clients, Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor).

One could say that it is not worth wasting money on an expensive dress, but that would reveal one’s ignorance of the power of real fashion; that looking good often means feeling good, and feeling good means knowing and claiming your worth. That is the message of “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” which boasts a proudly pro-Labor sentiment, beginning with Mrs Harris, whose adventure across the English Channel helps her see herself as someone worth being seen, someone who deserve nice things.

Her newfound empowerment begins almost as soon as she lands in Paris. Traveling so far, she manages the seemingly impossible: to stand up to Isabelle Huppert. The legendary French actress plays the snooty Mme Colbert, who threatens to throw her out of the exclusive fashion house. But with cash in hand, she is greeted by the workers at Dior, including Andre Fauvel (Lucas Bravo), the accountant, manager Marguerite (Roxane Duran), and model Natasha (Alba Baptista). Ada’s working-class English spunk also catches the eye of the Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson), and thanks to her benevolence, she enjoys a week in Paris while her Dior dress is made to order. Along the way she will do a bit of matchmaking, unionize the atelier and help change the way Dior does business forever.

Fantastic, predictable and utterly delightful, the story allows audiences to engage in familiar generic delights that have been cut and trimmed to precisely conform to every curve. Based on the 1958 novel by Paul Gallico and written by Fabian, Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson and Olivia Hetreed, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” sits at the well-appointed intersection of “Phantom Thread” and “Emily in Paris,” which share plenty of narrative DNA. It’s particularly amusing to see Manville pairing up with Huppert as the hoity-toity die-hard fashion house exec when Manville so devoured a similar role in her Oscar-nominated performance in Phantom Thread. Also, it’s a pleasure to watch Emily in Paris’ French hunk Bravo as a clumsy, bespectacled, and obsessed young accountant.

The film whirls around Manville’s charismatically authentic performance as Mrs. Harris. It wouldn’t be as believable or as charming without her in the role, and she easily strikes the center stage, the perfect subject (no mannequin) on which to build the breezy fashion delight that is “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” an escape we all deserve.

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