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Film Talk: Latest Movie Releases – Comedy-drama is putting on a dress to impress

It is an inescapable truth that the world of fashion is a deliciously suited bedfellow to that of film and telly.

Lesley Manville as Ada and Lucas Bravo as Andre Fauvel in Anthony Fabian’s new life-affirming drama comedy, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris
Lesley Manville as Ada and Lucas Bravo as Andre Fauvel in Anthony Fabian’s new life-affirming drama comedy, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris

For decades there has not been a red carpet that has been more about a movie’s stars than the frocks they are draped in. And for Hollywood’s finest, a stint as the face of an exquisite yet somewhat obnoxiously priced scent may as well be awarded in a doggy bag with those coveted boulevard stars.

Yet, aside from fashion and film being intertwined to ensure clothes are given the most magnificent ‘horses’, and said horses always look their shiniest both on screen and off, the glamourous world of haute couture has often served to drive the action, story and heart of some of the worlds favourite flicks and pics. Who can forget the Pretty Woman boutique scenes, and those crusty gals who made a big mistake (huge) that became one of the most iconic moments in 90s cinema?

Week in week out, Carrie Bradshaw’s soul would have been only half alight without Jimmy and Manolo. Derek Zoolander was inseparable from being really, really, ridiculously good looking on the catwalk. And, you can’t spell The Devil Wears Prada without, well... you get the picture.

As a cinematic plot-driver and character development crutch, fashion is often the fashion, darling. And this week, we’re taking a good ole’ peek at the latest silver-screen effort to put silk and sass at its centre.

Directed by Anthony Fabian, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris puts the talented Lesley Manville CBE in the titular role of a British cleaning lady in a post-war rags-to-riches tale of scoring her dream Dior dress by knocking on the door of the fabled fashion house itself.

But is this one just the right fit, or does it come apart at the seams?

MRS HARRIS GOES TO PARIS (PG, 116 mins)

Released: September 30 (UK & Ireland)

Post-wartime dreams come true in the shadow of the majestic Eiffel Tower in director Anthony Fabian’s life-affirming drama comedy adapted from Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel.

Polished to a heart-warming lustre by four screenwriters, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris merrily trades in old-fashioned British pluck and charm, transplanting a kind-hearted cleaning lady from the streets of south London to the arrondissements of the French capital in the grip of a refuge collection strike.

The resilient heroine’s dearest wish – to wear a Christian Dior dress to her local Royal British Legion’s forthcoming social – requires a nimble leap across class and language divides guarded by Isabelle Huppert’s snooty fashion house director, who mocks the idea of haute couture draped on someone like Mrs Harris.

“You are nobody, invisible. How will you give this dress the life it deserves?” she chuckles.

Evidently, the grand dame hasn’t read Charles Perrault’s 17th-century take on Cinderella, Cendrillon Ou La Petite Pantoufle De Verre, or she would recognise that she is playing the wicked stepmother in a cleaning rags-to-riches fairytale and no amount of cruelty will prevent the title character from going to her ball at Battersea Town Hall.

Oscar nominee Lesley Manville is delightful as a love-a-duck dreamer, whose innate kindness oils clunky plot wheels and guarantees a feelgood resolution that director Fabian gift wraps with impressive production design and costumes designed by Jenny Beavan in close collaboration with Dior.

Widowed cleaning lady Ada Harris (Manville) criss-crosses 1957 London with best friend Vi Butterfield (Ellen Thomas) to diligently dust and tidy the homes of cash-strapped aristocrat Lady Dant (Anna Chancellor) and struggling actress Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams).

In the course of her duties, Ada fixates on Lady Dant’s £500 Christian Dior dress.

A war widow’s pension and an unexpected windfall secure Ada an airplane ticket to Paris-Le Bourget Airport and she innocently gate-crashes the premiere of Dior’s 10th anniversary collection overseen by the couturier’s haughty director, Claudine Colbert (Huppert).

Times are tough for designer Dior (Philippe Bertin) so his team reluctantly accepts Ada’s rolls of cash in exchange for a one-of-a-kind creation that requires a series of fittings and an unexpected stay in Paris with accountant Andre Fauvel (Lucas Bravo).

“You don’t get this hoo-ha when you buy a frock down Woolworths,” clucks Ada as she casts a spell over the ailing fashion house and its denizens including model Natasha (Alba Baptista) and widower Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson).

Like its exuberant title character, Mrs Harris Goes To Paris has no pretentions beyond delivering warm, comforting hugs between words of affirmation and empowerment.

Parallel romantic subplots waltz to inevitable conclusions and Manville deftly navigates her hard grafter’s grief and gumption. Never underestimate a nobody.

SMILE (18, 115 mins)

Released: September 28 (UK & Ireland)

Kyle Gallner stars in Smile

Curses are highly infectious in the horror genre, from the urban legend of a killer videotape in the Ring films to the invisible angel of death that stalks survivors of transportation tragedy in the Final Destination franchise.

Writer-director Parker Finn’s waking nightmare imagines a malevolent presence that feeds on trauma and automatically transfers to a witness of a victim’s gruesome demise.

An arbitrary seven-day time frame between deaths provides Smile with dramatic momentum, punctuated by a couple of decent jump scares and a discordant soundtrack composed by Cristobal Tapia de Veer that sends chills down the spine.

Make-up effects during the protracted final showdown are impressive but there’s a grim inevitability to the overall design with potential sequels in mind.

THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER (12A, 127 mins)

Released: September 30 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Zac Efron and Russell Crowe star in director Peter Farrelly’s coming-of-age comedy drama based on an incredible true story.

Twentysomething Chickie Donohue (Zac Efron) lives in 1967 New York City with his parents while his friends including best buddy Tommy (Will Hochman) serve in the Vietnam War. The conflict divides Chickie’s family home – his sister Christine (Ruby Ashbourne Serkis) is vociferously opposed – but he wholeheartedly buys into the patriotic fervour.

Chickie jokingly suggests he could boost morale by travelling to the frontline with a consignment of American beer.

A light-hearted jest becomes a stark reality and Chickie heads to Vietnam, where he witnesses the controversial war first hand in the company of childhood pals and no-nonsense war photographer Coates (Russell Crowe),

FLUX GOURMET (15, 111 mins)

Released: September 30 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Flux Gourmet: Asa Butterfield as Billy Rubin, Fatma Mohamed as Elle di Elle and Ariane Labed as Lamina Propria

Reading-born writer-director Peter Strickland has defiantly ploughed a creative furrow at his own pace since his acclaimed 2009 debut Katalin Varga.

In the past decade, he has helmed three provocative and stylish films – Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke Of Burgundy and In Fabric – that defy easy categorisation.

The same applies to Flux Gourmet, a dark comedy set at the Sonic Catering Institute, which pioneers the art of recording the sounds of food stuffs.

The institute’s director Jan Stevens (Gwendoline Christie) welcomes journalist Stones (Makis Papadimitriou) to document the facility’s ground-breaking work.

For his article, Stones focuses on an avant-garde collective comprising Elle di Elle (Fatma Mohamed), Billy (Asa Butterfield) and Lamina (Ariane Labed), who stage elaborate performance art pieces at the institute to adoring audiences.

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS (15, 111 mins)

Released: September 30 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino and Aamu Milonoff in Girls Girls Girls

Three young women unabashedly push sexual boundaries and pursue independence in a critically acclaimed Finnish drama directed by Alli Haapasalo.

Fast-rising figure skater Emma (Linnea Leino) is crestfallen when she fails an important jump on the ice that could propel her sporting career to new heights.

In the midst of a crisis of confidence, she meets Mimmi (Aanu Milonoff) and a spark of attraction leads the couple into bed.

Meanwhile, Mimmi’s best friend Ronkko (Eleonoora Kauhanen) is frustrated that she can’t attain the same carnal pleasure as the people around her.

She easily attracts young men but something refuses to click between the sheets and Ronkko wonders if she might be asexual.

A BIRD FLEW IN (15, 91 mins)

Released: September 30 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Kirsty Bell makes her feature film directorial debut with a timely meditation on love and loss.

In March 2020, the UK goes into lockdown and the cast and crew of a feature film are sent home to weather the coming storm.

Structured as seven interlinked narratives, A Bird Flew In explores the psychological toll of the lockdown on the characters including editor Lucy (Morgana Robinson), who is unable to visit her critically ill mother.

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