Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile

3.8 18
Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles


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Set in 1953, Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), a new young art history professor at Wellesley College, an all-female campus with a prestigious reputation for academic excellence. Unfortunately for free-minded Berkeley grad Watson, her East Coast teaching stint comes during a less-progressive time that finds most of herSee more details below


Set in 1953, Mona Lisa Smile tells the story of Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), a new young art history professor at Wellesley College, an all-female campus with a prestigious reputation for academic excellence. Unfortunately for free-minded Berkeley grad Watson, her East Coast teaching stint comes during a less-progressive time that finds most of her students -- among them Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst), Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles), and Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) -- more interested in nabbing a good husband than achieving scholastic and intellectual growth. Watson challenges her students and the Wellesley faculty to think outside of the current mores of the community and redefine what it means to be a success; meanwhile, she tries to come to terms with her own heart's desires. Mona Lisa Smile co-stars Marcia Gay Harden, Juliet Stevenson, and, as Watson's conflicting love interests, Dominic West and John Slattery.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Julia Roberts, whose career choices haven't always been smart, picked a winner in this neatly directed drama, which unfolds in the rarified setting of Wellesley College during the early years of the Cold War. Roberts plays a free-spirited art teacher who finds her new assignment stultifying: Her well-to-do students seem less interested in expanding their minds and pursuing fulfilling careers than in marrying promising young scions of comparably proper breeding. Kirsten Dunst, in her most complex role since The Virgin Suicides, plays the ringleader of one student clique; intellectually gifted but insufferably snobbish, she deliberately shuns the adventure of personal achievement in favor of a conventional union sanctioned by her parents. Julia Stiles gets the less demanding but equally important role of a similarly talented pupil who finds herself yearning for something more than marriage and motherhood but fears abandoning the role for which she has prepared all her life. Director Mike Newell opts for a light touch, letting Roberts and company keep it on track with their sharply observed characterizations and spirited interplay. The younger actresses -- including Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is delightfully tart as the clique's resident "bad girl" -- all get ample opportunities to shine, and for her part Roberts refrains from upstaging them. Ultimately, Mona Lisa Smile is not a star vehicle but a true ensemble piece, and that helps make it a highly enjoyable viewing experience.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Wellesley College is a women's college where the best and the brightest women of New England's privileged class come to learn, if not necessarily to think. Mona Lisa Smile is about how the new art history teacher, unmarried Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), asks the young women of that university to reject the oppressive domestic goddess lifestyle that awaits almost all of them after graduation. Of the three students most affected by Watson, Maggie Gyllenhaal's Giselle Levy gets the best lines. The alcohol-swilling, sexually promiscuous rebel she plays feels like a product of the '50s, and Giselle quickly adores finding an older role model in Watson. Julia Stiles does the best work in the film as Joan Brandwyn, who opens up to the possibility that she does not have to marry her sweetheart. Her scene with Roberts after she makes the decision about her future is the best scene in the film because it is the only one in which anybody shows Watson that her beliefs may not be best for everyone. Sadly, the talented Kirsten Dunst as rich bitch Betty Warren is saddled with the worst scenes and the worst dialogue in the film. She suffers simply because she accepts wholeheartedly what she has been spoon-fed from childhood. Her punishment is so total and so extreme that the film becomes little more than a wholehearted acceptance of Watson's world view. That, plus the cartoonish treatment of Marcia Gay Harden as a heartbroken spinster who intensely believes in the importance of properly planned dinner parties, makes Mona Lisa Smile feel like a feminist film made by Wellesley graduates who want you to learn about feminism, but do not ask you to think about it.
Washington Post - Stephen Hunter
The movie, with its panorama of emotional epiphanies and its belief in the talent and grace of young women, is nevertheless bracing.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert
The characters involve us, we sympathize with their dreams and despair of their matrimonial tunnel vision, and at the end we are relieved that we listened to Miss Watson and became the wonderful people who we are today.
Boston Globe - Wesley Morris
The reliable Mike Newell directs Mona Lisa Smile with such assurance that the important moments are never mawkish or dull, and he encourages the women to act with absolute conviction.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Julia Roberts Katherine Watson
Kirsten Dunst Betty Warren
Julia Stiles Joan Brandwyn
Maggie Gyllenhaal Giselle Levy
Juliet Stevenson Amanda Armstrong
Dominic West Bill Dunbar
Marcia Gay Harden Nancy Abbey
Ginnifer Goodwin Constance Baker
Topher Grace Tommy Donegal
John Slattery Paul Moore
Jordan Bridges Spencer Jones
Marian Seldes Jocelyn Carr
Donna Mitchell Mrs. Warren
Terence Rigby Dr. Edward Staunton
Laura Allen Susan Delacorte
Tori Amos Wedding Singer
Paul Vincent Black Joseph O'Neill
James Callahan John Brandwyn
Ebon Moss-Bachrach Charlie Stewart
Taylor Roberts Louise
John Scurti Stan Sher
Jennie Eisenhower Girl At The Station
Leslie Lyles Housing Director
Lily Lodge House Matron
Christopher Braden Jones bartender
Chuck Montgomery Tall Man
Ed Peed Taxi Driver
Rony Clanton Porter
Becky Veduccio Blue Ship Hostess
Lisa Roberts Gillan Miss Albini
June Miller Cape Cod Hostess
Aleksa Palladino Frances The Girl In Italian Class
Charles Techman Harvard Dorm Monitor
Daisy Baldwin Art History Student
Janine Barris Art History Student
Emily Bauer Art History Student
Kirstie Bingham Art History Student
Jennifer Bowen Art History Student
Angelique Claire Art History Student
Nikki Coble Art History Student
Kristen Connolly Art History Student
Kristyn Coppola Art History Student
Kimberly Ehly Art History Student
Megan Marie Ford Art History Student
Lauren Fruchter Art History Student
Kate Glass Art History Student
Amanda Gruss Art History Student
Stella Hao Art History Student
Walker Hays Art History Student
Michele Hillen Art History Student
Annika Marks Art History Student
Amy Montminy Art History Student
Lily Rabe Art History Student
Katherine Reilly Art History Student
Krysten Ritter Art History Student
Brandy Tipton Art History Student
Trisha Trokan Art History Student
Megan Tropea Art History Student
Maja Walpvszyl Art History Student
Mary S. Pascoe Photographer
Elise Passamani Phyllis
Laura M. Flahive Wet Girls
Devon Jencks Art History Student
Erin E. Richardson Wet Girls
Emily R. See Wet Girls
Rob Buntzen Wedding Planner Host
Richard O'Rourke Igor
Christopher Bonomo Groomsman
Katherine Argo Dancer
Shelby Bond Wet Girls
Lou Brock Dancer
Brad Mehldau Pianist
Lauren Adler Art History Student
Michael Choi Dancer
Melissa Deles Dancer
Carrie Ann Kaye Christmas Student
John D. Fowler Dancer
Kevin Osborne Band Announcer
Nicole Frydman Dancer
Larry Grenadier Bass Player
Noelle Gibson Dancer
Peter J. Rowan Wedding Photographer
Maria Vicens Girau Dancer
Liliane Thomas Woman On Train
Dorothy Dwyer Faculty
Natalie Gomez Dancer
Sid Grant Dancer
Julie Wagner Bartender
Madeleine Hackney Dancer
Betina Hershey Dancer
Yuval Hod Dancer
Richard Jones Dancer
Jerry Jordan Dancer
Nickolay Khazanov Dancer
Nadia Kravets Dancer
Maria Levinstein Dancer
Kellydawn Malloy Dancer
Annette Nicole Dancer
Lance Olds Dancer
Joel Palmer Dancer
Christian Perry Dancer
Daniel Ponickly Dancer
Tony Scheppler Dancer
Solomon Singer Dancer
Gabriel Vaughan Dancer
Jennifer H. Anderson Projectionist
Kim Villanueva Dancer
Lindsey White Projectionist
Chris Burke Custodian
Kristen Marie Holly Christmas Student
Canedy Knowles Christmas Student
Melanie Angelique Moyer Christmas Student
Jackie Sanders Band Announcer
Dan Weltner Dancer
Sarah Billings Wheeler Dancer
Denise Zadroga Dancer
David Snell Conductor

Technical Credits
Mike Newell Director
Michael Adkins Costumes/Costume Designer
Jill E. Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
Mick Audsley Editor
Richard Baratta Co-producer
Susan Bode-Tyson Set Decoration/Design
Patrick Capone Camera Operator
David Chapman Asst. Director
Ellen Chenoweth Casting
Carol Herselle Crinsky Consultant/advisor
Richard Dean Makeup
Michael Dennison Costumes/Costume Designer
Susie Farris Casting
Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas Producer
Addie Hall Costumes/Costume Designer
Debbie Hollbrook Costumes/Costume Designer
Lawrence Konner Screenwriter
Christine A. Leiter Makeup
Yvonne Marceau Choreography
M.J. McGrath Costumes/Costume Designer
Anastas Michos Cinematographer
Michael Murphy Special Effects
Jane Musky Production Designer
Terence J. O'Mara Sound Mixer
Rachel Portman Score Composer
Randall Poster Musical Direction/Supervision
Joseph P. Reidy Asst. Director
Mark Rosenthal Screenwriter
Joe Roth Executive Producer
Paul Schiff Producer
Deborah Schindler Producer
Hartsell Taylor Costumes/Costume Designer
Frances Vega-Buck Costumes/Costume Designer
Patricia Woodbridge Art Director

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