• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Feb 25, 2006
  • Season #: 1
Mrs. Harris Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 11 Ratings

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  • Summary: Writer-director Phyllis Nagy's made-for-HBO biopic chronicles the tragic relationship between divorced school headmistress Jean Harris and "Scarsdale Diet" creator Dr. Herman "Hy" Tarnower, which ended with the latter's murder in 1980.
  • Genre(s): Movie/Mini-Series
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. 100
    Scene by scene, "Mrs. Harris" overcomes the rote nature of true crime stories.
  2. Their dance of love and rejection, of giddiness and bitterness, is a warped waltz, and Kingsley and Bening clearly relish every step.
  3. 80
    This kind of brittlely accurate performance is something to watch in the hands of an actress like Bening, who seems incapable --even during the film’s most blackly humorous moments -- of a false, Fatal Attraction–like note.
  4. The constant toing-and-froing of “Mrs. Harris” might have gotten tiresome, as an earlier HBO effort at revisionist biography, “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” did. Bening, though, is somehow able to conjure up a completely new mood for each time and setting.
  5. Addicting, like watching a really grimy train wreck, this sorry, sordid tale of Harris' obsessive love and descent into prescription pill addiction is icy, ironic and typically HBO in the frankness of its sex talk.
  6. 63
    Since I myself am a sucker for a true-crime cheesefest, I was loving this movie until I was rudely reminded by my friend Denise that, "This is neither good sleaze nor serious true crime! It's half a satire, and half a true crime movie!"

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 1 out of 10
  1. PeggyD
    Feb 25, 2006
    I read the book when it published, lived through the events and trial, and I have always been riveted by Harris's obsession and capacity for such profound denial. Sad to say there was no jmention of her quiet life in NH now or her contribution to women's programs in corrections. Expand
  2. GiaS
    Feb 21, 2006
    I saw this film at the Toronto Festival, and I was so overwhelmed by its genius, I had trouble sleeping. Haunting, it's so diligently intimate, I felt as if I were part of this tragic, compelling story. The cast is utterly brilliant, but the director/writer is the genius here. The varieties of perspective, the artful angles and views, the whole film is just genius, and, in my opinion, far too big for the small screen, especially with this stellar cast. It really begs for a great big screen. A tour de force, in every way. Expand
  3. JackK
    Jan 19, 2007
    Excellent acting, writing, directing. Complicated, funny, asks difficult questions. Should have won all the tv movie awards this year.
  4. EllenK
    Feb 27, 2006
    Mesmerizing, should have been a contender!
  5. SterlingM
    Mar 11, 2006
    Truly unusual, thought provoking movie with great performances and excellent technical contributions
  6. Lori
    Aug 5, 2006
    Refreshingly complex. Brilliant performances. This film does not spell out the motivations and intentions of its characters: the viewer must think and wonder while watching. If only more films would assume that the viewer is up to that task! Expand
  7. TedM
    Mar 10, 2006
    How on earth has this movie managed to get such high ratings. It's one thing to have a movie that's consistently wacked out, like Clockwork Orange or Fear and Loathing in LV, but this movie is all over the place. Sedate one minute, hallucinatory the next, muted and legalistic after that, then Spike Lee-esque, then grindingly tedious, then gonzo. For such a simple story, Nagy makes it extremely convoluted -- in the hopes, I suppose, of making it seem more complex and psychological than the Diet Doc murder really was. The whole thing felt to me like an unpleasant feminist's rants, given while suffering from a bad acid trip. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews