Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile

Mike Newell (2003)

12 Certificate


Our Score
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.


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.

Cast & Crew

Katherine Ann Watson Julia Roberts
Betty Warren Kirsten Dunst
Joan Brandwyn Julia Stiles
Giselle Levy Maggie Gyllenhaal
Bill Dunbar Dominic West
Amanda Armstrong Juliet Stevenson
Connie Baker Ginnifer Goodwin
Tommy Donegal Topher Grace
Director Mike Newell
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Columbia TriStarGuidance: Swearing and sex scenes. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 12 Mar 2004