Mona Lisa Smile Reviews

  • May 29, 2021

    This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and in my opinion one of the most under-appreciated of American movies. The cast is superb: Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julie Stiles, Kristen Dunst, Marcia Gay Harden, and more. Each character is brilliantly portrayed, each with her own story weaved seamlessly into the plot. The plot itself concerns a little-addressed issue in the field of education: are teachers meant to be simply vehicles of the transfer of information, or can they inspire their students to different lives, different ways of looking at the world? As a teacher, I've felt this tension acutely, at times painfully. This film covers so much ground with extraordinary efficiency: life in the 1950's, modern art, romance, lesbianism, sex. the women's movement.... Don't miss it!!

    This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and in my opinion one of the most under-appreciated of American movies. The cast is superb: Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julie Stiles, Kristen Dunst, Marcia Gay Harden, and more. Each character is brilliantly portrayed, each with her own story weaved seamlessly into the plot. The plot itself concerns a little-addressed issue in the field of education: are teachers meant to be simply vehicles of the transfer of information, or can they inspire their students to different lives, different ways of looking at the world? As a teacher, I've felt this tension acutely, at times painfully. This film covers so much ground with extraordinary efficiency: life in the 1950's, modern art, romance, lesbianism, sex. the women's movement.... Don't miss it!!

  • Mar 29, 2021

    A creatively-crafted, humble retake of "Dead Poets Society", under Julia Roberts' teaching with a brightening aura through her strong, vocally inspiring performance, becoming a worthwhile discussible web of commentaries poised to agreeably break questioned gender barriers against nearsighted conservativism. (B+)

    A creatively-crafted, humble retake of "Dead Poets Society", under Julia Roberts' teaching with a brightening aura through her strong, vocally inspiring performance, becoming a worthwhile discussible web of commentaries poised to agreeably break questioned gender barriers against nearsighted conservativism. (B+)

  • Jul 23, 2020

    Excellent movie about a teacher in a difficult situation. Good cast. Great interactions. College setting, many good themes included such as breaking free from social norms, being yourself, and more. I really enjoyed this movie and especially the supporting cast, yes the plot is somewhat predictable, but the period pieces, art history, the New England upper crust hit me just right and the fact that women can have their own lives is very good. Good chick flick!

    Excellent movie about a teacher in a difficult situation. Good cast. Great interactions. College setting, many good themes included such as breaking free from social norms, being yourself, and more. I really enjoyed this movie and especially the supporting cast, yes the plot is somewhat predictable, but the period pieces, art history, the New England upper crust hit me just right and the fact that women can have their own lives is very good. Good chick flick!

  • Feb 05, 2020

    I was shocked to learn that Julia Roberts was paid the most an actress had ever been paid at the time for her role in this film as the investment did not pay off. I believe this film was positioned as a major piece of awards bait at the time but it failed to take off and Roberts did not pick up that coveted Best Actress nomination she probably had her eye on. It feels very much like the female version of Dead Poets Society (1989) and it substitutes individuality and freedom for feminism and poetry for art history. I hated that film as it felt so contrived and it's efforts to squeeze emotion out of it's audience were ineffective. This is a film that feels mellower and less aggressive in it's emotional manipulation but it still does not add up to much at the end of the day. In 1953 a progressive feminist art history teacher, Katherine Watson, Julia Roberts, begins to work as a teacher at the conservative all girl's school Wellesley College where the students are set up for marriage and not careers. She is irritated by the fact that her students attempt to humiliate her by answering questions about the syllabus and not allowing her to teach them because they have memorized the syllabus. Watson tries to challenge them by teaching them about modern art and discussing her values despite facing strong opposition from the competitive Betty Warren, Kirsten Dunst, who writes mean articles about her in the school newspaper and humiliates her in front of the students. When Warren's marriage falls apart she decides to invest in her education and takes on some of Watson's political views as she has seen that following the way of life that society has advocated has not made her happy. Watson herself goes through a failed relationship and finds her values changing when one of her students makes an unexpected decision. I advocate for feminist ideals and it was nice to see a feminist film but this movie hits you over the head so hard with it's agenda that it is hard to take the film seriously. It does not have enough confidence in it's audience to believe that they will understand the message without this exposition. Watson is a liberal woman who has had opportunities out in forward thinking California that her sheltered New England students have not and the film tries to make us believe that she is inspirational and frees them from the oppression they face as women. It gets caught up in so many odd subplots that shove it's message on us however as while the subplot concerning Warren very clearly articulates the point that women should not have to rely on their husbands completely and should be able to divorce them the others are equally straightforward. What the film loses in providing little to no complication to stand in the way of these women being liberated is a sense of dramatic tension and an understanding of the time period these women lived in. Yes, these women are more wealthy than most of the population of the country and probably had better chances at getting a proper job than poor women but this would have been practically forbidden at the time. In this film Joan Brandwyn, Julia Stiles, is let into law school with little opposition and in addition to making her subplot seem dull it leaves us with questions. If feminism was supposedly such a new idea then why does she have so much freedom and why does she need Watson in her life? Warren is the only character who is really ‘changed' by Watson and even she does not face that much criticism for divorcing her husband and returning to school. The combination of the film pushing some ideas too far and others not far enough made it feel undecided and left me sure of the film's intentions but unsure of whether the film had their intended effect. None of the performances are actively bad as Roberts is fine but seems to be just floating along in the leading role and the girls who play her students sort of blend together. The real standout is Marcia Gay Harden who has one great scene in which she admits she is divorced and it is one of the few times in the film when Watson is really asked to think. I would not recommend watching the entire film for Harden alone but if you can find her few scenes on YouTube they are worth a watch.

    I was shocked to learn that Julia Roberts was paid the most an actress had ever been paid at the time for her role in this film as the investment did not pay off. I believe this film was positioned as a major piece of awards bait at the time but it failed to take off and Roberts did not pick up that coveted Best Actress nomination she probably had her eye on. It feels very much like the female version of Dead Poets Society (1989) and it substitutes individuality and freedom for feminism and poetry for art history. I hated that film as it felt so contrived and it's efforts to squeeze emotion out of it's audience were ineffective. This is a film that feels mellower and less aggressive in it's emotional manipulation but it still does not add up to much at the end of the day. In 1953 a progressive feminist art history teacher, Katherine Watson, Julia Roberts, begins to work as a teacher at the conservative all girl's school Wellesley College where the students are set up for marriage and not careers. She is irritated by the fact that her students attempt to humiliate her by answering questions about the syllabus and not allowing her to teach them because they have memorized the syllabus. Watson tries to challenge them by teaching them about modern art and discussing her values despite facing strong opposition from the competitive Betty Warren, Kirsten Dunst, who writes mean articles about her in the school newspaper and humiliates her in front of the students. When Warren's marriage falls apart she decides to invest in her education and takes on some of Watson's political views as she has seen that following the way of life that society has advocated has not made her happy. Watson herself goes through a failed relationship and finds her values changing when one of her students makes an unexpected decision. I advocate for feminist ideals and it was nice to see a feminist film but this movie hits you over the head so hard with it's agenda that it is hard to take the film seriously. It does not have enough confidence in it's audience to believe that they will understand the message without this exposition. Watson is a liberal woman who has had opportunities out in forward thinking California that her sheltered New England students have not and the film tries to make us believe that she is inspirational and frees them from the oppression they face as women. It gets caught up in so many odd subplots that shove it's message on us however as while the subplot concerning Warren very clearly articulates the point that women should not have to rely on their husbands completely and should be able to divorce them the others are equally straightforward. What the film loses in providing little to no complication to stand in the way of these women being liberated is a sense of dramatic tension and an understanding of the time period these women lived in. Yes, these women are more wealthy than most of the population of the country and probably had better chances at getting a proper job than poor women but this would have been practically forbidden at the time. In this film Joan Brandwyn, Julia Stiles, is let into law school with little opposition and in addition to making her subplot seem dull it leaves us with questions. If feminism was supposedly such a new idea then why does she have so much freedom and why does she need Watson in her life? Warren is the only character who is really ‘changed' by Watson and even she does not face that much criticism for divorcing her husband and returning to school. The combination of the film pushing some ideas too far and others not far enough made it feel undecided and left me sure of the film's intentions but unsure of whether the film had their intended effect. None of the performances are actively bad as Roberts is fine but seems to be just floating along in the leading role and the girls who play her students sort of blend together. The real standout is Marcia Gay Harden who has one great scene in which she admits she is divorced and it is one of the few times in the film when Watson is really asked to think. I would not recommend watching the entire film for Harden alone but if you can find her few scenes on YouTube they are worth a watch.

  • Oct 21, 2019

    Great movie My favorite movie

    Great movie My favorite movie

  • Jun 24, 2019

    I really enjoyed this movie because it shows the value of women and their education even when they were allowed to be educated. The girls in the movie played their parts well and showed the struggle of being a woman in the fifties. Julia Roberts was excellent in the way she defied the norm and taught many of them the needed change, to look at their future more seriously

    I really enjoyed this movie because it shows the value of women and their education even when they were allowed to be educated. The girls in the movie played their parts well and showed the struggle of being a woman in the fifties. Julia Roberts was excellent in the way she defied the norm and taught many of them the needed change, to look at their future more seriously

  • May 27, 2019

    "Mona Lisa Smile" is one of those movies that take their time to unwind, but they are telling such a compelling little story and make you dwell in your thoughts for a while after watching them. Julia Roberts shines in this one, but the entire female cast is actually astonishingly wonderful in their roles. I love the premise, the story, the script, the direction,the soundtrack and the themes this movie covers. It's a simple yet a very true story and actually an ode to all the women in this patriarchal society. "Mona Lisa Smile" is such a delight.

    "Mona Lisa Smile" is one of those movies that take their time to unwind, but they are telling such a compelling little story and make you dwell in your thoughts for a while after watching them. Julia Roberts shines in this one, but the entire female cast is actually astonishingly wonderful in their roles. I love the premise, the story, the script, the direction,the soundtrack and the themes this movie covers. It's a simple yet a very true story and actually an ode to all the women in this patriarchal society. "Mona Lisa Smile" is such a delight.

  • Mar 14, 2019

    A sort of 1950s, watered down 'Dead Poets Society' that focuses on an inspirational art teacher at an uptight college for women. It is very glossy and syrupy in places with all of the characters being stereotypes that are so broadly drawn as to be almost devoid of interesting features. It is all rather bland and very predictable. The scenery is nice though.

    A sort of 1950s, watered down 'Dead Poets Society' that focuses on an inspirational art teacher at an uptight college for women. It is very glossy and syrupy in places with all of the characters being stereotypes that are so broadly drawn as to be almost devoid of interesting features. It is all rather bland and very predictable. The scenery is nice though.

  • Feb 12, 2019

    Predictable storyline but throughout the movie there is a continuity which leaves you with a positive feeling at the end of the movie rather than a feeling that your time was wasted. Decent acting. The title is very thoughtful. The movie touches on a lot of progressive ideas at the time but fails to explore anyone in particular. Technically, the camera work is decent, production quality and editing is average.

    Predictable storyline but throughout the movie there is a continuity which leaves you with a positive feeling at the end of the movie rather than a feeling that your time was wasted. Decent acting. The title is very thoughtful. The movie touches on a lot of progressive ideas at the time but fails to explore anyone in particular. Technically, the camera work is decent, production quality and editing is average.

  • Feb 10, 2019

    Really disappointing for anyone who has never seen Dead Poet's Society and loved it. This film steals all the major plot lines and characters with only a few interesting and unique twists. I love Julie Roberts but this is by far the worst choice she has made in choosing a role. I like all the big actors here but the film falls flat and should be considered plagiarism of a much better film.

    Really disappointing for anyone who has never seen Dead Poet's Society and loved it. This film steals all the major plot lines and characters with only a few interesting and unique twists. I love Julie Roberts but this is by far the worst choice she has made in choosing a role. I like all the big actors here but the film falls flat and should be considered plagiarism of a much better film.