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Mona Lisa Reviews

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Dan S

Super Reviewer

September 4, 2013
A riveting, intelligently scripted drama concerning an ex-con (Bob Hoskins) fresh out of prison, who picks up a job as a driver for a high-priced prostitute (Cathy Tyson), who he eventually becomes infatuated with to the point where he makes a concerted effort to track down a close friend of hers that she lost in the dangerous business. An extremely well-paced, arresting tale full of twists, anchored by a ferocious, phenomenal performance from the always under-rated Hoskins makes this film a gem. The story is terrifically written, with a realistic, heart-wrenching twist in the midst of it all. While director Neil Jordan gets noted mostly for the well-done "The Crying Game", to me, this is the best movie he has done, at least that of what I have seen. Michael Caine is also great in a slimy turn against the types of characters he usually plays, and he pulls it off well, but this movie is mainly all Hoskins.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

August 19, 2012
Many consider this the British Taxi Driver. A bit of a simplification as it deals with a man who gets involved with the underworld of underage girls and prostitution. Mona Lisa is much more a romance set against a backdrop of criminal violence. Bob Hoskins stars in his greatest role ever. Just out of prison, he gets a job driving around a high class call girl. They develop a working relationship of trust and soon Hoskins is asked to track down a missing girl. Hoskins is so perfect in this role. You can easily see him as a gruff and mean gangster, but he adds a vulnerability which serves the romantic angle so well. He also has an endearing childlike naivety. Hoskins has great chemistry with everyone from Michael Caines villainous Mortwell, to his conversations about crime novels with Robbie Coltrane. The soundtrack is ace, with the opening and closing lyrics to Mona Lisa being all about interpretation, which this film certainly asks you to find your own. Director Neil Jordan litters scenes with which allude to fantasy stories, a white rabbit here, performing dwarfs there, etc. The dialogue is funny, the relationships emotional, and the themes disturbing. It's the full package and almost unique in its tone.
flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2009
Edgy, but in a polite, British sort of way. Bob Hoskins is absolutely spot-on (as usual).
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

September 27, 2007
Only someone as vulnerable and sincere as Bob Hoskins could play the central character, an ex-con, loner, cheap, no good, now a chauffeur, with a taste for stories and a fixation for the hooker he works for. His performance carries the film. I love the use of Nat "King" Cole's music, as well as the sordid underworld where the story move around. The opening scene, where Hoskin's character returns home after time in prison, and the one in the coast of Brighton, where he realizes Simone's intentions, really moved me. It's also quite good to see Michael Caine and Hoskins sharing screen time, because after what they did in "Get Carter" and "The long good friday" for me they are like the De Niro and Pacino of British isles.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

October 30, 2011
A great little film with great performances from Bob Hoskins and Michael Caine.
Sarah G

Super Reviewer

September 2, 2006
Really brilliant stuff here by Neil Jordan and totally 100% believable. Brilliant directed and gorgeously photographed too. Brilliant performance by the great Bob Hoskins who missed out on the Oscar at the time to Paul Newman. Mona Lisa may very well be one of most underrated films I think that I've ever seen. It still is quite harrowing to watch even by today's standards and probably one of the great British films of all time.

Good to see a young Clark Peters who would later go on to be In The Wire and a young Robbie Coltrane who would later go on to bigger things. Look out for a young Perry Fenwick(Billy, Eastenders), who makes a short appearance!

I can't stress enough how brilliant this film is. Please go out and find a copy of it and watch it. You won't be disappointed.

High Recommended
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2009
A brilliant British film, often overlooked and a firm favourite of mine!
Lady D

Super Reviewer

June 16, 2007
A pretty gritty drama of prostitution and a developing relationship between working girl and driver, played very well by Bob Hoskins and Kathy Tyson.

I've come to realise that Bob Hoskins looks the same whatever year the film is and it's a pity we haven't see more of Kathy Tyson in films.

VERDICT: A great British movie of the 80's, certainly worth watching if it comes on tv.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

January 9, 2007
An extremely grim but strangely romantic gangster film with strong performances all round and an intelligent script. Michael Caine is obviously enjoying playing the part of the bad guy for a change but it's probably a little bleak for many tastes.
Michael S

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2007
Outstanding British underworld flick.
Hoskins is a marvel here.
John B

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2012
Lots of raving about this film but I didn't find this to be an example of the best of Hoskins and Caine. The alleged grittiness and heart wrenching romance are not as wrenching as you might imagine.
lesleyanorton
lesleyanorton

Super Reviewer

July 17, 2009
Excellent film. Ex-con Bob Hoskins tries to protect call girl Cathy Tyson from the oily clutches of Michael Caine by running away to Brighton.
Stephen E

Super Reviewer

December 26, 2011
"Mona Lisa" is one of the classiest noirs out there. It starts out slow and takes a little while to gather steam, but eventually, it does and you'll find yourself deeply involved. Bob Hoskins gives a delightful performance as George, often exploding in fits of anger. He's a puzzle of an actor to me. I'm not sure how to categorize him, for he doesn't quite have the look of an actor that should be in these kinds of roles, yet he can play them so perfectly. I liked "Mona Lisa" more and more as the film progressed (especially the ending) and I greatly look forward to what else Neil Jordan has to offer.
DrLappos
DrLappos

Super Reviewer

February 16, 2008
Cant beleive I forgot about this one. The character played by Hoskins is extremely beleivable and the plot is superb....great film.
shannylee38
shannylee38

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2008
Neil Jordan always has a way to direct his actors where they have to feel and absorb the characters' emotions. Similar to his other films, the viewers experience the somber side of the characters. In the case of Mona Lisa, Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson roles transport us to a 'dirty' world of sex and drugs where the dark facade of London is revealed. And their journey together starts from there.
If you loved THE CRYING GAME, i absolutely recommend this film. It has a similar story but portrayed in a different environment.
February 12, 2013
It's got that "Chinatown" drive of the fatality of man's attraction to awful, perverted things, and Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa" only gets better as it gets seedier. What a shock Bob Hoskins was even nominated for an Academy Award. Forget the working girls; his mob-tied chauffeur is the whore with a heart of gold. Because even in uncharted waters Jordan doesn't play by the rules.
greyhound109
December 29, 2010
Let's compare Neil Jordan's 'Mona Lisa' starring Bob Hoskins to Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver' starring Robert De Niro. Both stars, in Oscar-nominated roles, play relatively broke (economically, that is) drivers. Both come across drugged-up prostitutes, whom they at some point take out to a diner, and whom they come to develope a strong emotional bond with. Both films include a famous actor (Harvey Kietel in 'Taxi Driver', Michael Caine in 'Mona Lisa') playing the cruel and derranged pimp, against whom the star eventually takes up arms against. Also, both films include a comic relief friend of the star's, also played by a soewhat famous actor: Robbie Coltrane in 'Mona Lisa', and Peter Boyle in 'Taxi Driver'. Though Jordan's 'Mona Lisa' is half as violent as Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver', it's twice as suspenseful. The performace by Hoskins matches that of De Niro, and the character-writing of Hoskins is even better. But Cathy Tyson, Jordan's hooker, is much less appreciable. Only moderately acted, Tyson is poorly written and very stereotypical. She's abused by her pimp, of course, is emotionally scarred from her prostitution experiences, of course. Caine is a rather interesting pimp, though. Being Hoskins' boss as well, he tries to get into Tyson's affairs with her clients for business exploits. Clarke Peters plays his twisted capo, taking care of Caine's dirty work. I was expecting less of a British 'Taxi Driver' and more of a prostitute version of 'Collateral', where the driver gets into in-depth heart-to-hearts with the subject, learning them and their business on a more personal level. But still a good watch. B
January 11, 2010
MONA LISA is a complex, intriguing, multi-faceted combination of black comedy, love story, crime drama and adult thriller that demands repeated viewings in order to successfully peel back the various layers and get to the heart of the matter. What you find there is entirely up to you, but I believe it to be a sad and sensitive portrayal of a small-time crook trying to fit into a world that simultaneously rejects and baffles him following his belated release from prison. Hoskins, once again stunning in a role that could have been written for him, is never too naive and never too streetwise, more of an amiable combination of the two.
engrymfilm
February 12, 2009
This is a one of a kind crime film. Bob Hoskins plays a genuinely mean, short tempered, and angry person who navigates freely in the criminal underworld. Without wasting any time we learn that he's ultimately a sad, lonely and desperate loser. He has but a single friend, a daughter he tries to reconnect with after a long absence and he takes a fancy to the call girl he now chauffeurs which leads to an ultimate heartbreaking emotional downfall. This movie is not focused on violence or money or revenge, it's a study of a down and out loser with feelings he has trouble controlling, coming to terms with, and expressing. It's a finely crafted emotional film where the crime genre is used as a backdrop and characters' genuine feelings are exploited. The tone of the film is somewhere between downbeat and an unsureness if things will get better which in my opinion may reflect George's (Hoskins) own conscious. It's damn near perfect.
afilmbymichaelmargetis
December 30, 2007
"Well, let's say you're a lady. " - George (Bob Hoskins)

Neil Jordan's 'Mona Lisa' is a great film that was sadly forgotten over time, even though Hoskins got an Oscar nomination for the film. 'Mona Lisa' follows a basically good guy whose made some bad choices George (Bob Hoskins) and his return from prison. Shunned from his wife and some of his old buddies, George feels kind of unwanted but gets a job from his old boss (Michael Caine) chauffeuring a call girl (Cathy Tyson) around at night. The call girl and George form a bond, while the story turns into violence, crime and George and the call girl's search for a young innocent teenage girl forced into prostitution. In my opinion, 'Mona Lisa' is one of Jordan's best films if not his best. Hoskins is absolutely amazing in his role, while Cathy Tyson and Michael Caine provide solid performances as well. Clarke Peters (who you may know as Detective Freeman from HBO's brilliant dramatic series 'The Wire') is also in this as Cathy Tyson's evil and psychotic pimp. For all you indie fans out there, rush to the Blockbuster near you to rent 'Mona Lisa' (make sure it's not 'Mona Lisa Smile', that movie is a tad bit different.) Most likely, you'll find a lot to enjoy and/or admire about this little British indie gem. Grade: B+
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