MONA LISA SMILE
Review by Chastity Campbell
Starring: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal,
Marcia Gay Harden, Julia Stiles
Director: Mike Newell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star
Features: See Review
Length: 120 Minutes
Release Date: March 9, 2004
“When your courses are set,
and a real dreamboat you’ve met, have a real cigarette, have a Camel!”
For those of you out there who are the super liberal, burn
your bra kind of gal that ran barefoot at Woodstock in 1969, this DVD may not be
for you! I know after watching, I
said a serious thank you to women like my mother who have made the world a more
equal place. I didn’t say a
better place, just more equal, and easier to live with from a woman’s
Seriously though, this film from everything I can gather is
apparently a very good representation of the way things were in the 1950’s.
Aside from that, this film has a very good story, and wonderful
actresses, and come on, who could ask for more from a movie?
Julia Roberts stars as Katherine Watson, an Art History
teacher who has always had the dream of teaching at the exclusive girls’
school Wellesley. She gets
her wish, but gets more than she bargained in her students, the school, and
everyone else’s expectations.
Throughout the course of her first year teaching, Katherine
goes through more ups and downs than a yo-yo.
She’s constantly being bombarded with criticism for her teaching
methods, her love life, and her beliefs in general.
Along the way she makes some friends, some enemies, and
earns respect from one of the most unexpected places.
Julia Roberts is Julia Roberts, and that should be enough
said! However, I will say that this
lady has the ability to draw you into any character she’s portraying by simply
smiling. I guess that’s why it
was so fitting for her to have the title role in a film called Mona Lisa
The supporting cast, who in my opinion took their characters and created starring roles for themselves, were phenomenal.
Julia Stiles, whom I simply adore, was absolutely adorable
as the strong minded, Joan. I was
really rooting for her character all the way through the film.
Kirsten Dunst’s character Betty, whose family by the way
is friends with the actual Joneses that the phrase “keeping up with the
Joneses” was created for, was my second favorite character out of the girls in
this film. Dunst is a wonderful
actress, there is no doubt, but she truly showed she can swing the emotional
ball and chain quite well as she transformed from a raving bitch to a subdued
princess in the blink of an eye.
My absolute favorite and the biggest surprise from my
perspective was Maggie Gyllenhaal. I
really want to see more from this lady because she’s not only beautiful and
talented, she has this charisma about her that really grabs you and drags you
along for the ride whether you want to go or not. Her character Giselle was a hoot to watch, and easy to
enjoy. I really think this lady has
a lot of Hollywood out in front of her and the best has yet to come.
I won’t go all philosophical on you and turn this review
into a bash session as to how crazy things have become since the 1950’s, but
some really cool statistics were listed in one of the featurettes that made me
sit up and take notice.
Did you know, that in 1953 only 7% of women who graduated
college received law degrees? This
number is extremely low in comparison to the 47% that receive law degrees now.
The average age an American woman got married, in 1953 was
21, now it’s 28. Not that big of
a difference, but being 29, I tried to think where my head was at when I was 21
and it terrified me!
Freshmen college women who claim they are virgins, in 1953
85% of girls said they were still virgins.
Now that number is slightly lower…okay, a lot lower at 22%.
COME ON LADIES!!!!
There were plenty more statistics and a lot of fun and
entertainment on this disc, but if you want to know the whole story, grab your
copy on DVD and let it spin your brain.
This DVD contained some of the best camera and lighting
work I’ve seen in a while. Add to
that colors that were vibrant and warm, offering the viewer a comfortable visual
experience reminiscent of the 50’s themselves.
There was hardly any dirt or graininess to the print and
the 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer lost nothing in the process from big
screen to TV screen.
Credit must be given to the people responsible for this
DVD’s audio. The Dolby Digital
5.1 Surround was very crisp, clear, and free from problems.
The audio levels remained constant throughout, which is a pleasant change
from some of my other experiences recently to say the least.
The dialogue and music beds blended fluidly and without either one
overpowering the other. I really
enjoyed listening to this DVD as much as watching it.
Finally, a DVD with features you can sink your eyes into!
This one is loaded folks, so sit back, relax, and enjoy!
The three main featurettes, “ Art Forum’, “College
Then And Now”, and “What Women Wanted In 1953” are totally loaded with
information. The cast did a
wonderful job in their interviews, and their answers will give you a better
understanding of what women think in 2004 by comparison to the 1950’s.
There are ten movie trailers included for you to view.
Some are old, some are new, and some have yet to be released in theatres,
so give them the once-over.
“The Heart Of Every Girl,” music video by Elton John is included. Also, filmographies for all of the main actresses and crew are included so you can learn more about the amazing people who gave this movie life.
French and English language options are available as well
as French and English subtitles.