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Mona Lisa Smile

  • Drama
  • 2003
  • Mike Newell
  • 114 mins
  • 12A

Summary

A conservative 1950s girls' school receives an unconventional addition to its teaching staff in the form of a free-spirited, bohemian art historian. Unfortunately, her fellow teachers frown on her newfangled ideas, while most of the students have no greater ambition in life than landing a rich husband. Drama, starring Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

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Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Feminism in the 1950s gets a soft-focus sheen in this sentimental drama from Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell. Ostensibly a female Dead Poets Society, starring Julia Roberts in the unconventional teacher role, it's an emotionally manipulative tale with a quasi-intellectual veneer. Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and a vampy Maggie Gyllenhaal are among the students at a New England girls' college in 1953 whose lives are changed irrevocably by the arrival of unmarried art history lecturer Roberts and her scandalous free-spirited ways. Though the characters are all recognisable stereotypes, they're solidly performed, while Roberts makes a sympathetic lead, despite her often anachronistic behaviour and appearance. Newell ably captures the tensions caused when tradition and progression clash, but his simplistic view of the past is governed too much by the present to give the film any real authenticity. The end result is an earnest and glossy melodrama that presses all the right buttons yet never quite convinces.

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Credits

Cast

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Katherine Ann WatsonJulia Roberts
Betty WarrenKirsten Dunst
Joan BrandwynJulia Stiles
Giselle LevyMaggie Gyllenhaal
Bill DunbarDominic West
Amanda ArmstrongJuliet Stevenson
Nancy AbbeyMarcia Gay Harden
Connie BakerGinnifer Goodwin
Paul MooreJohn Slattery

Crew

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DirectorMike Newell

Details

Theatrical distributor
Columbia TriStar
Released on
2004-03-12
Language
English
Guidance
Swearing and sex scenes.
Available on
video, DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
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