Mrs. Harris

( 1 )

Overview

The sensationalistic murder of diet guru Dr. Herman Tarnower is explored in this stylized take on the tabloid cover story from first-time director Phyllis Nagy. As the inventor of the popular "Scarsdale Diet," Dr. Herman Tarnower Ben Kingsley became an overnight success during the peak of the early '80s diet craze. Despite the popularity of the Dr. Tarnower's revolutionary "lose one pound per day" diet, the womanizing ways of the Casanova cardiologist would soon come to a brutal end at the hands of his jealous, ...
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Overview

The sensationalistic murder of diet guru Dr. Herman Tarnower is explored in this stylized take on the tabloid cover story from first-time director Phyllis Nagy. As the inventor of the popular "Scarsdale Diet," Dr. Herman Tarnower Ben Kingsley became an overnight success during the peak of the early '80s diet craze. Despite the popularity of the Dr. Tarnower's revolutionary "lose one pound per day" diet, the womanizing ways of the Casanova cardiologist would soon come to a brutal end at the hands of his jealous, prescription drug-addicted lover Jean Harris Annette Bening. Driven to despair after their 14-year romance failed to result in marriage and enraged by Dr. Tarnower's shameless status as a ladies' man, Harris confronts her former lover in one violent, final act of desperation.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
The murder of Scarsdale Diet inventor Herman Tarnower could easily have become fodder for a Lifetime TV movie starring, say, Meredith Baxter or Jane Seymour. Luckily for premium cable devotees, it instead inspired this wonderfully tart HBO movie, which subverts docudrama clichés at every turn. In a part as smart and sour as her role in Being Julia was steely and grandiloquent, Annette Bening plays spurned lover/murderess Jean Harris with a lethal combination of self-knowledge and fatalism. Harris never asks to have her romantic hopes raised, but once they are, there's no returning to her previous state of expertly cultivated complacency. As persnickety Dr. Tarnower, Sir Ben Kingsley oozes equal parts charm and condescension. The doctor's carefully articulated rules and regulations provide a perfect defense against other people's expectations. Director/screenwriter Phyllis Nagy teases out these careful characterizations in a playful narrative that bounces between times, perspectives, and moods. If there's a problem with Mrs. Harris, it's that it tries almost too hard to avoid movie-of-the-week boilerplate. The fractured chronology sometimes saps the story of emotional weight, while the amused tone threatens to descend into glibness. On the whole, however, Nagy's approach gains more than it loses, as in the scene where Tarnower's outsize genitalia earns envious stares from the guys in the locker room and voice-over testimonials from his many ex-lovers. This single, amusingly literal sequence tells the audience all it needs to know about this self-satisfied alpha male -- and that's but one example of Mrs. Harris' terrific cinematic shorthand.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/25/2012
  • UPC: 883316505380
  • Original Release: 2005
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Archives
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 83,281

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Annette Bening Jean Harris
Ben Kingsley Dr. Herman Tarnower
Ellen Burstyn Former Tarnowner "Steady"
Chloë Sevigny Lynne Tryforos
Cloris Leachman Pearl Schwartz
Frances Fisher Marge Jacobson
Mary McDonnell Vivian Schulte
Michael Gross
Philip Baker Hall Arthur Schulte
Bill Smitrovich Joel Arnou
Frank Whaley George Bolen
Brett Butler
Lee Garlington
Nan Martin
Larry Drake
Caroline Lagerfelt
John Patrick Amedori David Harris
Technical Credits
Phyllis Nagy Director, Screenwriter
Tim Bird Asst. Director
Curtiss Clayton Editor
Alison Dominitz Production Designer
John Frizzell Score Composer
Libby Goldstein Casting
Elizabeth Karlsen Executive Producer
Pamela Koffler Executive Producer
John Levesque Sound Editor
Hothouse Music Limited Musical Direction/Supervision
Junie Lowry-Johnson Casting
Lee Percy Editor
Frankie Pine Musical Direction/Supervision
Steven Poster Cinematographer
Troy Sizemore Art Director
Christine Vachon Executive Producer
Chrisann Verges Producer
Julie Weiss Costumes/Costume Designer
John Wells Executive Producer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Very Disappointing

    Annette Bening is one of my favorite actresses and after hearing that this was nominated for a bunch of Emmys, I had great expectations for the film. Unfortunately, "Mrs. Harris" is an extremely boring and slightly depressing movie- I had to force myself to watch it. The character of Jean Harris is a woman who hates herself and so she allows herself to be hurt again and again in a relationship with Ben Kingsley's character. Annette Bening (who has been spot-on perfect in some of her films) is great in some parts of "Mrs. Harris," but in other parts I thought it was unclear what she was going for in her acting. "Mrs. Harris" tries to be an "actor's movie," and as a result, story and direction have suffered hugely, and the film even fails to be a good "actor's movie." Ben Kingsley is horribly miscast- his character is supposed to be charming and seductive, but Kingsley comes off as annoying and gross. Ben is good at making his character a jerk, but does not have the charm that would keep luring women to his character. Ellen Burstyn is in the movie for literally four seconds. Cloris Leachman is great in all of her scenes so she might win an Emmy. The direction of "Mrs. Harris" is awful. The camera closes in on something and stays focused on it for a very long time. This makes the viewer feel trapped and suffocated. Had there been more movement, a faster pace, and a better lead actor, this might have been an OK film. Only the ending (about the last 5 minutes), which has a crazy humor and sharpness to it, provides a little relief from the hour and a half of slow boredom.

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