Mona Lisa

Overview

Writer/director Neil Jordan has made many fine movies in his career (as well as plenty of intriguing and worthy misfires) but the exquisite Mona Lisa stands as his crowning achievement. The Criterion Collection, the best DVD house out there, has released the movie in a beautiful widescreen transfer that showcases the movie's dark London underworld perfectly and the audio transfer is clean, well balanced, and free of hiss. This edition also comes with an excellent commentary from Jordan and star Bob Hoskins (who ...
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Overview

Writer/director Neil Jordan has made many fine movies in his career (as well as plenty of intriguing and worthy misfires) but the exquisite Mona Lisa stands as his crowning achievement. The Criterion Collection, the best DVD house out there, has released the movie in a beautiful widescreen transfer that showcases the movie's dark London underworld perfectly and the audio transfer is clean, well balanced, and free of hiss. This edition also comes with an excellent commentary from Jordan and star Bob Hoskins (who was rightly nominated for an Oscar for his subtle, honest work in the film). Jordan discusses a discarded love scene between Hoskins and Cathy Tyson and though he was correct in editing it out of the picture, it would've been nice to include it, and some other deleted scenes included on the DVD (though such cut scenes were often lost before the advent of digital film editing systems in the 1990s made them so much easier to store and keep track of). Interestingly enough, Michael Caine based his villain on the real neighborhood gangsters of his youth who softly spoke to grown men as if they were children. The softer Caine speaks, the scarier he becomes. Made with an eye towards such subtle details, Mona Lisa is a film to savor again and again -- especially now with this Criterion Collection DVD edition.
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Special Features

Audio commentary by director Neil Jordan and star Bob Hoskins, original theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Director Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa sketches a fragile relationship in an underworld where exploitation is the norm, delivering a study in how opposites both attract and repel, and so much more. Bob Hoskins is thick but sweet as George, an ex-con hired to chauffeur a beautiful, refined prostitute named Simone Cathy Tyson to her appointments in classy hotels and palatial mansions. After getting off to a bad start George is a racist and Simone is black, among their many differences the two gradually develop a mutually protective relationship. But London's seedy underground sex industry, with its drugs, violence, and extortion, is no place for love, nor even trust -- a lesson George learns the hard way once his employer, a mob boss played for snide impact by Michael Caine, gets involved in the situation. For all its seediness, Mona Lisa comes across rather upbeat and clean. Could it be the ubiquity of Nat King Cole's title song? Or maybe this is due to the recent surplus of gritty, urban realism in British cinema. In any case, the off-key details 15-year-old prostitutes portrayed by 30-year-old actresses don't significantly detract from the central story. Mona Lisa resounds as a tender, complex love story that feels all the more real for its unconventionality. Jordan and Hoskins provide illuminating commentary on the DVD, in brogue and Cockney, respectively. -- Craig Garrett
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa takes the audience on a journey through the paradoxically grimy yet elegant world of London's Soho district. The characters conflict in similar ways to the setting, as classy call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson) and boorish George (Bob Hoskins) are constantly at each other's throats. In an interesting twist on the fish-out-of-water theme, Simone tries to teach George how to behave in polite society, while he tries to show her the truth about her lifestyle. The slimy world of King's Cross is appropriately and convincingly presented through George's empathetically innocent eyes. Eventually, the pair's differences seem less important than the loneliness and desperation that they share. Their doomed love is made all the more poignant by their shared sense of isolation from the worlds that they inhabit. Mona Lisa is elevated by a keen, cutting script that is brutally honest in its character revelation and scorching dialogue. Jordan makes intelligent use of camera angles and lighting to demonize Michael Caine's character, the underworld boss Mortwell. Simone is distant, elusive, enigmatic, and well played by Tyson. Hoskins embraces this complex role with a delicacy and range that must make him the envy of working actors everywhere. There are echoes of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver in the prostitution-and-redemption themes of the King's Cross scenes, as well as in Hoskins' brave and urgent performance.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/13/2001
  • UPC: 715515012027
  • Original Release: 1986
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Alternate Wide Screen (1.77:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Mono
  • Sound: monaural
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:44:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bob Hoskins George
Cathy Tyson Simone
Michael Caine Mortwell
Robbie Coltrane Thomas
Kate Hardie Cathy
Clarke Peters Anderson
Sammi Davis May
Zoe Nathenson Jeannie
Rod Bedall Terry
Joe Brown Dudley
Pauline Melville Dawn
Dawn Archibald Girl Prostitute in Club
Joan Darling Roberts
Robert Dorning Hotel Punter
David Halliwell Devlin
G.B. "Zoot" Money Carpenter
Maggie O'Neill Girl in Paradise Club
Raad Raawi Arab Servant
Hossein Karimbeik Raschid
Stephen Persaud Black Youth in Street
Mandy Winch Flower Shop Girl
Gary Cady Waiter
Donna Cannon Young Prostitute
Perry Fenwick White Pimp
Richard Strange Porn shop Man
Alan Talbot Attendant (Baths)
Geoffrey Larder Hotel Clerk
Helen Martin Peep Show Girl
Kenny Baker Brighton Busker
Jack Purvis Brighton Busker
Jeremy Hardy Shop Assistant
Bill Moore Brighton Busker
Bryan Coleman Stanley
Technical Credits
Neil Jordan Director, Screenwriter
Chris Brown Producer
Lois Burwell Makeup
Patrick Cassavetti Producer
Ray Cooper Producer
Ray Corbett Asst. Director
Nick Dudman Makeup
Ray Evans Songwriter
Susie Figgis Casting
Terry Forrestal Stunts
Louise Frogley Costumes/Costume Designer
Genesis Songwriter
George Harrison Executive Producer, Producer
Edward Heman Songwriter
Gemma Jackson Art Director
Michael Kamen Score Composer
David Leland Screenwriter
Jamie Leonard Production Designer
Jay Livingstone Songwriter
Denis O'Brien Executive Producer, Producer
Roger Pratt Cinematographer
Lesley Walker Editor
Stephen Woolley Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Side #1 --
0. Chapters
1. Opening credits [2:57]
2. "Are you gonna clean that up?" [1:15]
3. A bunny named Arthur [4:28]
4. Spaghetti a la faux [1:20]
5. The first beep [6:35]
6. "God made me that way" [4:50]
7. "Your wish is my command" [3:00]
8. "You like men's clothes?" [3:28]
9. No Bloody Marys [2:10]
10. Establishing trust [7:15]
11. "You'll never look like other people" [2:30]
12. "In Too Deep" [4:50]
13. "She's a good girl" [4:09]
14. New twists [4:32]
15. "Get me an ice cream" [6:19]
16. Teatime [3:39]
17. Anderson revealed [4:00]
18. Father George [5:25]
19. She loves me... [2:39]
20. Lift attack [3:58]
21. Disappearing act [4:05]
22. A really big shoe [5:31]
23. They Live by Night [6:41]
24. Mortwell returns [2:46]
25. The story ends [5:19]
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Menu

Main
Play The Movie
   Commentary
   Theatrical Trailer
   Color Bars
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