I’m disconsolate. Nothing dramatic. It’s an ordinary pandemic arts-deprived depression, precipitated by the realization that there’s nothing to do in town except go to the movie, “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.”
Years ago I read the charming, feather-light novel, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris (the book title charmingly drops the “H”) and the movie, starring Lesley Manville, may be even lighter – too light. I recall the basic plot from the book: Mrs. ‘Arris, an English char-lady with a delightful Cockney accent, decides to go to Paris and spend her savings on a Dior evening gown.
Darling Mrs. ‘Arris! Or do I mean Harris? Naturally, her unaffected charm wins the hearts of Parisian snobs. Perhaps Lesley Manville- what better source? – will teach me the art of charming designers. But the other movies in the theater – I shudder to mention this – have titles like Thor: Love and Thunder.
I have read that movie ticket sales are recovering ground. The Hollywood Reporter says that box office sales in June were almost up to $1 billion, last achieved in December 2019. Sales were boosted by a cartoon called Minions: The Rise of Gru. But I wonder, Where is the adult fare? How long must I stay in my living room watching Netflix limited series?
The pandemic shattered the arts, films, music, and theater, though many are slowly reopening – others killed for good. According to an article in Time magazine in June 11, 2021, “Putting an End to the Pandemic Means Putting Artists Back to Work,” half an estimated 500,000 jobs in the performing arts in New York were cut during the first year of the pandemic. Elizabeth Alexander, the president of the Andre W. Mellon Foundation, writes warmly of the value of the arts in New York and California.
What she doesn’t mention is that the states in between the coasts (America with a ‘k’?) also desperately need the arts. Some of us drive 200 miles to an art museum, only to learn that it is closed for the next four years. I know of one independent movie theater that never reopened, its proprietor claiming that there are no longer any independent films. Bad news if true!
Well, the Met Opera is thriving (or at least singing its heart out), and for $500 we could have seen Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite on Broadway.
Despite my doubts about Mrs. Harris, the film may win an Oscar, judging from the rapt critics, who liberally sprinkle their reviews with the phrase “fairy tale.” Forget the fairy tale – all I ask for is entertainment.