Run time: 115 mins
Anyone familiar with the films of Mike Leigh will have already been aware, and probably in awe, of Leslie Manville long before her riveting turn in Phantom Thread.
In this adaptation of a popular 1958 novel by Paul Gallico, she plays Ada Harris, and a war widow, who falls in love with a client’s swoon-worthy Christian Dior gown and vows to buy one for herself, even though the price is far beyond her means. With some luck, she scrapes the money together and treks to Paris, where she’s at first rebuffed by the master’s right-hand woman (Isabelle Huppert), only to win over everyone at the house with her forthright warmth.
Her performance has an understated elegance. Ada is uncompromising not just in her fashion sense but also in defining her own happiness.In the end, Ada creates her own enchantment. The dress is just a red herring—albeit a gorgeous one.
It’s all setting Manville up for the status she’s deserved for many years, as one of the UK’s finest, deserving of space alongside Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, the term “national treasure” is accurately used.