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Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

 -  Drama  -  19 December 2003 (USA)
6.4
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 52,879 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 258 user | 138 critic | 40 from Metacritic.com

A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.

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Title: Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Paul Moore
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President Jocelyn Carr
Donna Mitchell ...
Mrs. Warren
Terence Rigby ...
Dr. Edward Staunton
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Girl at the Station
Leslie Lyles ...
Housing Director
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Storyline

Katherine Ann Watson has accepted a position teaching art history at the prestigious Wellesley College. Watson is a very modern woman, particularly for the 1950s, and has a passion not only for art but for her students. For the most part, the students all seem to be biding their time, waiting to find the right man to marry. The students are all very bright and Watson feels they are not reaching their potential. Altough a strong bond is formed between teacher and student, Watson's views are incompatible with the dominant culture of the college. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In einer Welt, die ihnen vorschrieb, wie man lebt, lehrte sie sie, wie man denkt. (In a world that told them how to live, she taught them how to think.) See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and thematic issues | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

19 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La sonrisa de Mona Lisa  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,289 (Hong Kong) (30 April 2004)

Gross:

$11,289 (Hong Kong) (30 April 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Harvard Din & Tonics:  the a cappella group singing "Istanbul not Constantinople". See more »

Goofs

When Katherine Watson [Julia Roberts] is studying Joan Brandwyn's [Julia Stiles] file, it says that Joan attended Miss Porters School in Lower Merion, PA. Miss Porters School is in Farmington, CT. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Betty Warren: [voiceover] All her life, she had wanted to teach at Wellesley College. So, when a position opened in the Art History department, she pursued it single-mindedly until she was hired. It was whispered that Katherine Watson, a first-year teacher from Oakland State, made up in brains what she lacked in pedigree. Which was why this bohemian from California was on her way to the most conservative college in the nation.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits for the prominent cast and crew are set in front of vintage footage and advertisements showing women in the 1940s and 50s. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

The Heart of Every Girl
Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Produced by Trevor Horn
Performed by Elton John
Courtesy of Mercury Records Limited
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
20 March 2004 | by (Waynesville, OH) – See all my reviews

While watching Mona Lisa Smile, I was reminded of Rosie the Riveter -- not because she's remotely representative of the movie, and certainly not because an image of her is unjustly (and incomprehensibly) wedged between snapshots of conventional housewives during the end credits, but because she represents everything this movie wanted to be and wasn't: she was an independent thinker who knew actions spoke louder than words and gave a face to one of the most important movements in history. Sadly, the same cannot be said for this flop. In Mona Lisa Smile (the latest feature by director Mike Newell, who I'm sure would rather us remember him for hits like Four Weddings and a Funeral), a "progressive" art teacher (Julia Roberts) infiltrates a college for girls who want to become Stepford Wives and wows her alumni with the concept of not getting married (gasp!). Of course, there's the prerequisite love interest and the multiple storylines of each student's life -- which couldn't be more dull, or more alike for that matter. This is a movie that not only glorifies the Hollywood cookie-cutter recipe, but rubs your face in it -- and I'm just getting warmed up. The screenplay was written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal -- both men -- and it's evident in every scene: Konner and Rosenthal are attempting to show that women can do what they want, but they try so hard to get their message across that you start wondering if they actually believe it themselves. I could almost envision them snickering at the script while they were writing it, delighting in how they would go on to fool millions of female viewers across the country into jumping on the bandwagon and seeing Konner and Rosenthal's insulting tripe as an anthem for their independence: here's one viewer who WASN'T deceived. And Newell doesn't help much -- he should've known that a movie like this deserved a female presence SOMEWHERE in the crew (imagine what this would've been like if Jane Campion or Sofia Coppola were assigned to direct? Then again, they're far too intelligent for this rubbish and would doubtlessly see beyond it's pseudo-feminist exterior in a second). The cast members all try to treat the dialogue seriously, but they're way too good for this as well: it reached the point where I couldn't distinguish whether Roberts was p***ed off about the situation depicted in the film or the insolence of the film-makers. The supporting cast includes the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (all talented young actresses) as well as Marcia Gay Harden (whose character essentially serves no purpose whatsoever to the plot) and Juliet Stevenson. What they're all doing in this garbage I'm still trying to figure out. Just last year, Gyllenhaal jumped my list of favorite actresses with her stunning performance in Steven Shainberg's terrific film, Secretary, and I fear that she's already having her indie credit ruined (at least Johnny Depp had the opportunity to get a dozen or so good roles in before he shattered his reputation with Pirates of the Caribbean). Perhaps the most tragic thing about Mona Lisa Smile is that the more it tries to rebel against the Oprah Winfrey estrogenated female stereotype, the more it perpetuates it. At the end of the movie, Roberts' students are blindly following her on their bicycles as she drives away: if it weren't for the sickeningly sentimental score by Rachel Portman, it would seem like a scene out of a horror movie. Because at the end of the movie, Roberts has only taught her pupils to drop one standardized ideal for another. Rosie wouldn't be pleased at all.

Grade: D


6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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