Directed by: Phyllis Nagy
Writing credits: Phyllis Nagy
Movie Genre: Drama/Thriller
Love hurts. Nobody knew that better than Jean Harris, the prep-school headmistress and longtime paramour of celebrated "Scarsdale Diet Doctor" Herman "Hy" Tarnower.
In 1980, the couple's tempestuous 14-year romance ended with Tarnower's shocking death at the hands of Harris herself - triggering one of the century's most notorious and bizarre murder trials.
Inspired by a true story, this HBO Films drama tells the tragic, quirky, unlikely tale of Jean Harris, who made headlines in the early 1980s after shooting and killing her lover, "diet doctor" Herman Tarnower (Ben Kingsley), at his home in suburban New York.
The film portrays different accounts of Tarnower's fatal shooting with flashback scenes introduced by dramatic testimonials from the various players, including Harris, the doctor's sister, several of his ex-lovers, Harris' best friend, and Harris' two sons.
Refined and well-educated, Harris seemed an unlikely candidate to commit murder. But after nearly 15 years of tolerating Tarnower's infidelities, and fueled by an increasing dependency on drugs (some prescribed by Tarnower), Harris' love spiraled into something darker.
Was she guilty of premeditated murder, as the prosecution claimed, or did she accidentally kill Tarnower while trying to commit suicide, as she swore?
Mrs. Harris presents both options, challenging viewers to make up their own minds.
Inspired by the book "Very Much a Lady" by Shana Alexander, Mrs. Harris was written and directed by playwright Phyllis Nagy in her film directorial debut.
Nagy (who was born in NYC and is now based in London) has always been fascinated by the Harris/Tarnower story, and over the years has tried to think of a way to bring the story to the screen.
In 2002 she started writing a script that mixed elements of tragedy with a biting wit.
"Hy and Jean stood on the gallows and watched this happen," she explains, "and all they could do is what we all do ... laugh our way through the pain."
Tagline: She loved him. So she shot him.