Putting together a cast of strong female actresses and giving them a script that deals with the feminist issues of the 1950s at least got Mona Lisa Smile off to the right start. The topics touched upon at least shine due to the way the young stars of the film (Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal) all take control of their characters, much like they’re being asked to take control of their lives by new teacher on the block, Katharine Ann Watson (Julia Roberts.)
Roberts plays a free-thinking art professor who chooses to teach at Wellesley College, a conservative women’s private school after leaving her boyfriend in Los Angeles. Her mission is to help make the girls she teaches think for themselves, and realize that there’s more to life than finding a husband and becoming a housewife. Obviously, conflicts begin to arise, as some students don’t wish to follow Watson’s words of wisdom, and the school quickly catches wind of her teachings, and quickly move to silence her.
Comparisons are easy to come by when looking at this as a female version of Dead Poet’s Society, however, not as strong. The movie’s strongest points are found in the actresses, and they definitely bring their A-game to give this film any type of life with what they’ve been given. Still, there‘s only so much that acting itself can do, and unfortunately the script they’re given doesn’t stray from the ordinary and mundane.
With a paint-by-numbers plot, the film basically gives the viewer what they likely expect throughout, with no real dramatic notes being hit along the way. That’s not to say there isn’t drama, or that Mona Lisa Smile is all bad; it’s just not the standout film that it could be with all these strong actresses taking part.
By this point, those who wanted to see Mona Lisa Smile likely have, and will know whether or not a second viewing is worth their time; to those who haven’t, there’s really nothing being missed that’s worth changing that status.
With a 1080p Full HD upgrade, Mona Lisa Smile does look fantastic. The picture comes through crisp, and the visuals jump out at the viewer. The audio gets the TrueHD 5.1 touch, and there’s no issues that can be brought up with the sound quality. If there’s a copy to own, obviously, this would be it.
Art Forum – This one runs at about six and a half minutes, and has the younger stars of the film talk about the art used, and how they’ve changed their opinions on art as a whole while filming.
College Then & Now – At almost 15 minutes in length, this feature sits with the films young stars, as well as Julia Roberts, and they talk about the differences between going to school in 1953, compared to now.
What Women Wanted: 1953 – The cast once again comes together and talk about the political aspect of the times. This one runs at roughly 10 minutes long.
Music Video: Elton John “The Heart of Every Girl”
Mona Lisa Smile is a decent flick, that hits the notes it wants to hit while treading across topics that may not appeal to everyone. The acting is without a doubt the film’s strongest aspect, while the story is one you’ve no doubt seen at least once before. You likely know already if you’re going to be upgrading to the Blu-ray edition of the film, though there’s no real reason unless you’re a big fan.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Mona Lisa Smile. Directed by: Mike Newell. Starring: Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Running time: 119 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: Feb. 2, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.