Esther (Nathalie Baye) is a highly-skilled seamstress at the famous Dior Avenue Montaigne workshop. We understand that Esther lives alone, shares conversations with her flowers and has a sweet tooth for chocolates and general treats. Given her age, Esther is starting to receive subtle hints that her days in the role are now numbered.
One morning while Esther is on her way to work, her handbag is stolen by a young twenty-year-old woman named Jade (Lyna Khoudri). Feeling frustrated, Esther attempts to continue about her day. Jade has a change of heart about her theft when she discovers some of Esther’s belongings inside the bag. She decides to return the bag to Esther, and while Esther is still annoyed, she sees strong potential in Jade’s soft hands and offers her an internship instead of phoning the police. Now, Esther and her team will begin to train and teach Jade offering her a second chance at life, honing a new skill she never knew she could be capable of.
Haute Couture is best described as a feel-good drama. It’s a positive film that focuses on an unlikely friendship and the power of second chances in life. As a plot, I found it, for the most part, enjoyable and pleasing. Yes, I can’t deny some moments are slightly cliché and familiar. For instance, Esther and her team are under pressure with an upcoming show; Jade discovers a romance, deals with the fear of failing and issues in her family, and the list goes on.
Throughout the film, I was shocked and surprised to find some details are somewhat ignored or skipped over, including why Esther has such a forgiving heart towards Jade, who consistently either gets into trouble or sticks her foot in it. Is it possible Esther is distant from her daughter? Or perhaps, she generally believes Jade has what it takes based on her hands. Some details are purely up to viewers to decide or accept. Perhaps you will not even find out the outcome.
Pacing here, for the most part, is also great, but I can’t deny that I felt the film was starting to drag and overstay its welcome in the third act. This was mostly due to several subplots that were introduced. Some of these feel warranted, and sadly, some felt highly unnecessary, including a romance between Jade and a co-worker. As for the musical score, I’m happy to report that I enjoyed the gentle piano melody that occasionally appeared, which felt fitting and was quite impactful. Performances are pleasing, but I feel some characters could be frustrating to watch (again, because they’re just so cliché and cheesy!)
Overall, for the most part, this is a good and positive film with a touching story of an unlikely new friendship and second chances. Yes, many moments are familiar or cliche and some details are not all spelled out for the audience. But putting these aside, I still had a positive time with this film as it ticks all the boxes I’d expect given the story and its themes. The music score is quite fitting whenever it appears, and the performances are great, although some characters are a little cheesy and cliché. Movie buffs who are in the mood for a feel-good drama story or a film focusing on dressmaking featuring stunning dresses will find plenty to smile about.