A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself".
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
Lecture Hall scenes were filmed at Columbia University, which maintains a 50-year-old lecture hall used in many different films. See more »
During the slide show, Dr. Watson says "A Rhodes scholar. I wonder if she recites Geoffrey Chaucer while she presses her husband's shirts". Women were not permitted to apply for Rhodes scholarships until 1977. See more »
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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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 »
I liked Julia Roberts less in her earlier movies, I like her more now that she is playing older and flawed characters, like the new professor of Art History in 1953 Wellesley College in "Mona Lisa Smile." And the title does not refer to her, instead it is embedded in remarks in the screenplay about the actual painting of The Mona Lisa. Not everything turns out well in this movie, it more closely reflects real life than do many of the modern romantic comedies. This one is NOT a romantic comedy, although it does include several romances, and there are some funny parts. It is more a serious drama about life and growing up, both from the perspectives of the undergraduates, and the new professor. I bought the DVD, the picture and sound are fine, and there are several interesting extras on the making of this movie, and the work done to get the period correct.
I don't share the many negative comments about this movie. It is a fine drama, one that merits repeat viewings once or twice a year. It is NOT simply a 'Dead Poet's Society' for the girls. To call it that is to overlook all the fine, unique points about this movie.
Update: Saw it again March 2013, I enjoyed it as much as the first two times.
Update: Saw it again June 2017, I enjoyed it as much as the first three times.
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