Cinema Consults: Mona Lisa Smile

Lisa A.Tomaszewski

Physician's Money Digest, May 15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 9

This film, which can be rented from your local video store, is rated on a scale of 1 to 4 caducei:

Mona Lisa Smile

The Hours

MONA LISA SMILE (2003): Set in the 1950s, was a movie I just couldn't wait to see. As promised by the previews, the movie was supposed to tackle the constraints of women's roles as seen through the experiences of students attending Wellesley College during this interesting period of American history. The trouble was, I had a very difficult time believing it was set in the 1950s. The main reason for this was Julia Roberts. The usually likeable actress was a walking anachronism throughout the film, and tossed cold water on me any time I began to suspend disbelief. Her hair, costume, speech, and mannerisms made no attempt to convey her time period. The talented actresses supporting her made this more painfully obvious. Julia Styles in particular could have walked right out of a time machine—she is poised and believable. Marcia Gay Harden is also a treat to watch. This film had such great potential and could have enlightened us about a very interesting period of time for American women. Instead, the movie fumbled with a romantic story line and cast aside more interesting characters and stories for no good reason. My advice is to rent instead— only one third of the film is set in the 1950s, but what it covers is ten times more insightful than this fluffy throw-away.

Rating: 1

Lisa A. Tomaszewski, managing editor of Physician's Money Digest, is currently working on her PhD in literature at Drew University in New Jersey. She is an avid fan of film and has taught a summer film course at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She welcomes questions, comments, or suggestions for future film reviews at 732-656-1140 ext 195 or ltomaszewski@mwc.com.