Mona Lisa Reviews
Itr s a nice story and a must watch for growing teenager and everyone above that age.Nice story.
I watched Mona Lisa towards the end of December, after I had set the first draft of my Best I Saw list for 2013. When I was finished, I immediately went to that list and had to rearrange it. Neil Jordan took the British gangster film (and he was serious about making sure people knew it was a British gangster film, to the point of casting the British gangster film stalwart, Bob Hoskins, the Ray Winstone of the eighties), added some of that Neil Jordan magic that few people recognized that early in his career (Mona Lisa was Jordan's third feature), and came up with something that simultaneously revelled in being a British gangster film and something that was also totally new. I'm not sure there is such a thing as the definitive British gangster film, and if it does exist, I'm certain it happened well before 1986. Besides, Mona Lisa breaks far too many molds to be a definitive anything... and yet, somehow, it is, a quick, genre-bending, exceptionally intelligent piece of work.
George (Hoskins) is a small-time mobster who has just been released from prison for a crime he didn't commit-he took a fall for his boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine), who's now avoiding him. He tries to pick up a bit of make-work until he gets back in good with his old mob, and Mortwell, through a proxy, throws him a bone as the driver for a high-class courtesan, Simone (The Serpent and the Rainbow's Cathy Tyson in her feature debut). The two of them have some rough edges to get through, but eventually end up bonding. Once that occurs, Simone asks George for a favor-she promised a fellow courtesan that she would look after her, and the two of them have lost touch over the years. Could George find her? And thus, the mobster becomes an amateur detective, leading to a sequence that's equal parts comedy and homage to Taxi Driver.
See what I mean about genre-bending? That's a tough thing to do, and the more movie I watch the more I understand how tough it is, but Jordan handles everything he tries here with aplomb. Every decision here was made correctly, from casting to camera angles, with one arguable exception (it is obvious, given that a section of the film is a full-length rendition of the Genesis song "In Too Deep" over a montage of George doing his sleuthing, that the studio paid highly for the song and damned well meant to fully showcase it). It is perhaps not a perfect film, but if it is not, is is about as close to one as I have seen in quite a while; this is fabulous filmmaking, and it doesn't matter what genre you are most into, you are likely to find a bit of it here; this is a movie that by rights should have appeal to the widest swath of filmgoers of any I have seen in many years. **** 1/2
The plot is strong even if the dialogue isn't always(it certainly is at times though) and there's a nice tone of seediness with some light comedy for relief and some good drama to keep the intensity going. Its a good film noir at times that works as a thriller, romance, drama and comedy- there's something sweet to it despite its setting within the dark underworld of the sex trade.
It really does feel like a classic but one that doesn't deserve much recognition for it, its hard to explain but it feels perfectly placed to be underrated and I do believe that it is. Despite Hoskins giving a powerhouse performance at the front there's enough characters to analyse elsewhere. Its subtly impressive and surprisingly versatile and multi-faceted upon inspection, and on top of all this its also entertaining- one could easily only half pay attention to this one and miss all of the finer details but still find it worth watching.
Its a bit overly-serious at times in a mechanical way, a strange feeling from movies from the 60s onwards that somehow seemed to disappear in the 90s. Its grimly artistic at times with some well-shot scenes reflecting dark sexual aggression but Hoskin's performance also manages to keep it likeable, there's one scene in particular that was wholly serious but ended up leaving me with a slight smile thanks to Hoskin's character. Its a memorable film because of moments like that- ones that don't seem fully intentional but would require such fine crafting to pull off that they must be.
the ending does feel a little rushed but its a real ending even if its not as finely-crafted as other parts of the movie. All in all, a seriously good movie and a prime example of British cinema in its prime.
"You like her in that special way, like in the songs."