Tuesday 18th January 2022

Mona Lisa Smile (12A)
Directed by: Mike Newell
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Set in the early 1950's, this film follows Catherine Watson (Julia Roberts) as she embarks on her first year as a teacher at Wellesley College, the most conservative school for young women in the United States.

The girls are enraptured by the winsomeness
The girls are enraptured by the winsomeness

Of course, the independent and forward-thinking Watson does not follow the existing faculty's idea of teaching and when her lessons in the History of Art begin to encourage the young women to think for themselves, professors and pupils alike have their feather's ruffled.

The girls in Watson's class (including Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles and Maggie Gyllenhaal) go on an emotional journey with their teacher, during which time they consider their future, love and they way they want to live their lives.

The story of a strong and progressive teacher that is torn between a stuffy faculty and the urge to do what they believe is best for the students is one that has been told many times in many ways (The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, The Shawshank Redemption) and there is nothing new to be found in this version. While it is harmless enough, this film is not especially powerful and feels more Dawson's Creek than Dead Poet's Society.

If you're a particular fan of Julia Roberts' winsome smile and welling eyes, then by all means go and see this film, but otherwise it's not worth any special effort. If you are after a good character-driven emotional film, then you'd do well to catch the superb Lost In Translation while it is still on.

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Length: 117 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 12th March 2004

Top Five Rating: 60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0%60.0% (60.0%)
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