6.4/10
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271 user 139 critic

Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

PG-13 | | Drama | 19 December 2003 (USA)
A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 1950s Wellesley girls to question their traditional social roles.

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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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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:

They had everything. She showed them more. 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

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Release Date:

19 December 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La sonrisa de Mona Lisa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$65,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$11,528,498 (USA) (21 December 2003)

Gross:

$63,860,942 (USA)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ginnifer Goodwin's film debut. See more »

Goofs

One young woman holds up a blue plastic diaphragm case. In the 1950s, diaphragm cases were cloth or rubber. Plastic cases appeared in the 1970s. 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.
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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 Death and Taxes (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

'S Wonderful
Written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Produced by Trevor Horn
Performed by The Trevor Horn Orchestra
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Either you're gonna love it or you won't.
5 April 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I just watched this movie in the theatres as it was released just a few days ago overhere. What can you expect from it? You've seen the trailers... It looks pretty much like Dead Poet's Society doesn't it? But with women instead? :-D.

Well, I had that feeling indeed. It felt like Dead Poet's Society during some periods in the movie. But overall, it was still different. The surface story isn't that complicated and easy to follow. It's nothing new either. But it was displayed very well.

Sure, it's about a teacher... her passion to teach and the way she outwitted the students to get the best out of them... It also shows the way a good teacher cares for their students and so forth... and the way contradicting ideas may blind one's ideas and actions, towards those who they are meant for. Did that sentence sound weird or what? :).

You can't go wrong with the cast here. You've got Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ginnefer Goodwin, etc. They played great in the movie.

Julia Roberts is just great at playing these emotional roles. It was believable as well. I at least could feel the frustration which she had. Her character is more of a confused type. She reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds... There was basically a mixture of confusion and dedication... thus as a teacher, despite how sure of she may be of her teaching methods, you also sense a nervousness in her... a feeling of uncertainty as to whether her methods of getting the messages across to the students or not will work. I thought Julia Roberts did a great job in that area.

Kirsten was just excellent. You could feel the internal turmoil going through her throughout the movie. One might argue that she had a pretty wack role and that she overacted etc. but I don't agree with that. She's practically a heartless b**** through the movie, but you can't help but understand why. The same goes for Julia and Maggie. Just the way they were depicted in the movie, you really felt for them. Ginnefer Goodwin's character was also funny and emotional to watch.

Marcia Gay Harden, as Julia's friend was great. She was a pretty funny character to watch, but at the same time, you just can't help but feel sorry for her.

Times have changed... from those times and now. Many might watch this movie and go, "Uhm, okay, what's the big deal?" But the problem is that women have gone through a great ordeal and struggle to get to where they are today in society. Even today, they still fight to gain respect in many areas in the world today.

I've heard many bad comments about this movie. And funnily enough, most of them come from guys... whilst the females found it a bit better. There were some negative comments but many said that they loved it, but felt that it wasn't a movie for everyone.

The movie tackling the issue of feminism only touches upon a small part of it all of course. One cannot tackle the whole aspect of feminism in any one single movie at all, and I found the focus to be good enough. There are many stereotypes here and I found them necessary to get the points across. If it were not for the stereotypes, people would be wondering what the point really was. But now that there are stereotypes, people will complain about them.

I thought that it was a bit too short. It could have focused a bit more on the other characters in the movie... i.e. the girls in school. A few more subplots and build ups may have been better. There was a little foreshadowing in the movie but one couldn't help but wonder where the movie was going. But what overcame this, from my point of view, was that you just felt that you wanted to get to know the characters in the movie more. The more you knew about each character, the more the characters knew about one another. I thought that was quite nice.

I would advise everyone with an open mind for dramas to go watch this movie. If guys see this movie as a "chick flick"... they really won't know what to expect cause this would be "the most THE chick flick for chicks" if you get my drift. I'm a guy and I found it entertaining... Whether it was insightful or not, I wouldn't say it was, due to experiences and stories throughout my life.

The movie isn't without flaws... There could have been even more character build up if only the director's were given more film to record the picture. But do watch this if you can :). It'll be worth the time, if you're patient enough :).


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