Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile

3.8 18
Director: Mike Newell

Cast: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles

     
 

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Julia Roberts stars as a college professor struggling to open the minds of her students in this drama, which has been given a well-executed presentation on DVD. Mona Lisa Smile has been transferred to disc in letterboxed format at its original widescreen aspect ratio; it has also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors. The original

Overview

Julia Roberts stars as a college professor struggling to open the minds of her students in this drama, which has been given a well-executed presentation on DVD. Mona Lisa Smile has been transferred to disc in letterboxed format at its original widescreen aspect ratio; it has also been enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors. The original English-language audio track has been mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, while a French dubbed version appears in Dolby Digital Stereo; optional subtitles in English and French are also included. Bonus materials include a commentary track from director Mike Newell, short features on how the college experience and the attitudes of most women have changed since 1953 (the year in which the film is set), a look at the art discussed in the film, a music video from Elton John, and the film's original trailer.

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.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/09/2004
UPC:
0043396100756
Original Release:
2003
Rating:
PG13
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
1:59:00

Special Features

Multiple featurettes, including "Art Forum," "College Then and Now," and "What Women Wanted: 1953"; Elton John music video for "The Heart of Every Girl"; theatrical trailers.

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
Brad Mehldau Pianist
Lauren Adler Art History Student
Carrie Ann Kaye Christmas Student
Kevin Osborne Band Announcer
Larry Grenadier Bass Player
Peter J. Rowan Wedding Photographer
Liliane Thomas Woman On Train
Dorothy Dwyer Faculty
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
Gabriel Vaughan Dancer
Jennifer H. Anderson Projectionist
Lindsey White Projectionist
Chris Burke Custodian
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

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start [1:08]
2. Katherine Watson [3:39]
3. Nancy Abbey [1:15]
4. History of Art 100 [7:45]
5. Amanda Armstrong [1:55]
6. The New Syllabus [4:42]
7. Against the Law [2:11]
8. A Front-Page Attack [3:08]
9. Dismissed [5:06]
10. Not Dangerous, Subversive [1:10]
11. Joan Brandwyn [4:01]
12. Betty's Wedding [8:40]
13. The Jackson Pollock Assignment [5:27]
14. Accepted to Yale Law School [3:36]
15. An Early Christmas Present [1:37]
16. Off the Track [3:26]
17. The Paint-by-Numbers Lecture [3:55]
18. Adam's Ribs [5:54]
19. The Contemporary Art Lecture [4:19]
20. Stupid, Deceived & Angry [1:15]
21. Belated Gift Exchange [6:05]
22. The Truth About Charlie [2:34]
23. Spring Fling 1954 [7:15]
24. Her Fate Is Sealed [7:16]
25. Stan Sher [5:26]
26. A Conditional Invitation [3:59]
27. "How Else Will You Remember Us?" [3:12]
28. A Woman Who Lived by Example [9:18]

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Mona Lisa Smile 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is inspirational. I'm so glad I wasn't a female in the 50's. Julia Roberts, Kirstin Dunst--were wonderful! I can't say enough how inspiring this movie was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An overly sentimental movie for those who like to march to the beat of their own drum and I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a good movie but the ending really contradicted the entire point of the movie. I was not so appreciative of that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I mostly like comedy, but even though this isn't a very funny movie, it is definitely worth your time. It's amazing how different life was for girls only 50 years ago. The best thing about the movie, I think, is all the characters. They're so different and it's like they each have their own story. Overall, it was nearly perfect.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is possibly one of the worst supposedly 'feminist' movies I have ever seen. I had hoped it would be better than what the trailers showed, but boy was I ever wrong.

Julia Roberts' character and acting are totally unbelievable. She looks like she was from the future and she didn't even come close to looking like she was from the 50's. The romance with her and the other teacher was so off what her character would do or act, it didn't make any sense. And of course they have the typical Julia Roberts scene with her flat on her back, hair splayed out, then cue laughing (in that irritating high pitched neighing/squealing). As usual she plays the same role she almost always does in her overrated 'acting' carrer.

Julia Stiles did well as her typical studious overachiever, try to do it all role, but her character went downhill near the end, in an unbelievable way. Kirsten Dunst was good as a nasty student that turned nice at the end. But by far the best were Maggie Gyllenhaal as a promiscuous yet smart and likeable student and Ginnifer Goodwin who you might have seen in the television show Ed (which she was wonderful in) and How to Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. She is the most realistic of the bunch and the one who stole the whole movie. She shined brighter than any of them. I wished she could have been in it more, it would've been a better movie. Marcia Gay Harden and Topher Grace were both great in their small roles also. I give JR .5 star, JS and KD 3 stars, and everybody else I mentioned 5 stars.

And just what the heck was up with the scene at the end with Kirsten Dunst riding on a bicycle along side Julia Roberts in the car. There was never any bonding between the two to make any sense in that happening.

I'd recommend skipping this movie, unless, of course you'd like to see something that will make you cringe and wonder why you wasted your time with such drivel. The story is simply awful! I totally disagree with the above reviews. especially Barnes and Noble's review, so very far off the mark. I am so glad I got this from the library and didn't spend any money on it.

BasiaD More than 1 year ago
Very exciting and inspiring to watch, especially for someone who used to be a tutor and a teacher most of her life.
joiseygoil More than 1 year ago
What a great movie. If you were born in the 40's or 50's you will understand it, if you are the child of someone from that era, you will better understand women and what they had to put up with. It is such a great movie and Julia Roberts was unbelievably great and there is so much to teach about our past in viewing this movie. Someone mentioned that they don't make movies about this era because this movie should have been a "blockbuster" but didn't make it. It is because it is too bright, intelligent and meaningful and there is not one car chase or sex scene. Buy it, see it and let's talk about it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd compare this Julia performance to her Tinkerbell in Hook. Not good. The supporting actors, were however, outstanding. Kudos to the new young women in Hollywood. Dunst, Stiles, and each of the other roles were done very, very well. The story line was nice, but another leading actress would have made it really shine. Pretty Woman was such a great hit...but if I have to see Julia be weepy, emotional and have her head veins pop out...I'd rather not.