“Mrs. Harris”

Mrs. Harris

By Jae-Ha Kim
May 13, 2006

Mrs. Harris is HBO’s fact-based tale about the tumultuous relationship between Jean Harris and Scarsdale Diet author Dr. Herman Tarnower, whom she is accused of shooting to death in a jealous fit of rage. But it’s also a cautionary tale about what can happen when a woman is so obsessed with a man she’d rather die–or kill–than be left behind.

As Harris notes when she’s on trial for his murder, she doesn’t understand how “something that ugly and sad could’ve happened between two people who didn’t argue, except over the use of the subjunctive.”

As the oddly paired lovers, Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley do a formidable job with their roles. She is a well-educated social climber teaching at a girls’ prep school. He is a wealthy doctor who loves her enough to propose marriage, but not enough to go through with it. She sticks around for 14 years, hoping she’ll outlast all his other mistresses.

When her best friend suggests she find someone worthy of her, Harris scoffs, “I despise decent men. … Cruelty isn’t a crime. Boredom is.

Unfortunately, the film–even with all the sensationalistic background material–is a meandering production that evokes boredom and impatience rather than viewer’s pity, anger, or understanding.


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