BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

29 October 2014
shropshireshropshire

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Shropshire
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Shropshire

Birmingham
Black Country
Hereford & Worcester
Stoke

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us


Kirsten Dunst and Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile
15Mona Lisa Smile (2004)

updated 10 March 2004
reviewer's rating
1 out of 5
Reviewed by Nev Pierce


Director
Mike Newell
Writer
Lawrence Konner
Mark Rosenthal
Stars
Julia Roberts
Kirsten Dunst
Julia Stiles
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Ginnifer Goodwin
Length
119 minutes
Distributor
Columbia TriStar
Cinema
12 March 2004
Country
USA
Genre
Drama
Web Links
Official site



A 50s-set, female-take on Dead Poets Society, Mona Lisa Smile is like an awful hangover: stomach-churning, stupid and avoidable. Julia Roberts is against-the-grain teacher Katherine Watson, who lands a position at a conservative all-girls college, where her 'liberated' ways raise a few eyebrows. Not least those of prissy madam Betty (Kirsten Dunst) and her more easygoing mates: Joan, aka The Kind One (Julia Stiles); Giselle, aka The Tart (Maggie Gyllenhaal); and Connie, aka The Ugly/Fat One Who's Not Really Ugly Or Fat (impressive newcomer Ginnifer Goodwin).

She inspires her student stereotypes by, um, chatting about modern art, being single and eyeing up Professor Dunbar (Dominic West). The same qualities irritate the oh-so-uptight establishment, who persecute her by, ah, er, having a quiet word about her teaching methods. The horror.

"GROTESQUELY PATRONISING... STUPID"

Still reading? Well, it doesn't get any more interesting. Despite the quality cast and a director who made the brilliant Donnie Brasco, Mona Lisa Smile is devoid of enjoyment, intelligence or interest. It has no idea what it wants to say, for a start, offering a trite, follow-your-dreams message, which the cop-out conclusion suggests is little more than a self-justification for selfishness.

It's grotesquely patronising towards any conservative characters, other than Stiles' affectingly acted would-be lawyer, while its "progressive, forward-thinking" amounts to doling out jonnies, boffing a colleague and appreciating Jackson Pollock. The only really interesting, alternative character is Juliet Stevenson's long-serving lesbian teacher, who is dropped almost as soon as we meet her.

There's no sense of place or period either. A series of look-it's-the-50s touchstones are used (I Love Lucy, chintz), while Roberts (a very contemporary actress) looks likes she's walked in from Ocean's Eleven.

Then there's the ultimate insult of the Mona Lisa connection, which sees Dunst keeping a commendably straight face as she simpers, "She's smiling. Is she happy?" Someone has to be. But if you pay to see this you may feel as Roberts does in one of her moments of mini-trauma: "stupid, deceived and really, really angry."

Find out more about "Mona Lisa Smile" at
Movie Review Query Engine
The Internet Movie Database


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

line
Top| Films Index | Home
 


  BOLLYWOOD
BBC Shropshire Bollywood news, reviews and galleries
Red bullet point Bollywood film galleries
  FILM SEARCH
BBC Shropshire film search
Red bullet point What to see in Shropshire
  UK TOP FILMS
BBC Shropshire guide to top ten films to watch this month
Red bullet point What to watch this month
  FILM VAULT
BBC Shropshire film vault
Red bullet point Packed full of film reviews



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy