Mona Lisa Smile : Movie Review

It’s 1953 and a bohemian lecturer (Julia Roberts) is appointed to the Art History department at Wellesley.

She quickly realises that the supposed forward thinking of this prestigious girls’ college is mostly a facade and brands it a finishing school in disguise.

Mona Lisa Smile has been proffered as a film concerning non-conformity and although it clearly has aspirations to say something original and significant, it features stereotypical characters and adheres to a crowd-pleasing formula.

It is simple to draw comparisons to Dead Poets Society, yet Mona Lisa Smile doesn’t measure up favourably. The film feels flat and its messages don’t translate well to today’s audience, as they are simply no longer relevant.

Mike Newell director of Four Weddings and a Funeral handles proceedings competently, if occasionally slowly, but never shows any signs of real originality.

And whilst her role would seem to be no great stretch for Roberts, although she deals well with the character’s emotions, she appears out of place in a 1950’s setting.

On a positive note, the performances from Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kirsten Dunst are all pretty strong. But perhaps the star turn comes from Ginnifer Goodwin who gives a more heartfelt performance.

Ultimately though, as the film’s direction and themes contradict one another the inspirational sentiment is lessened and Mona Lisa Smile is consequently not the masterpiece that it could have been.

3 stars out of 5

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Author : kevin stanley