Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mona Lisa Smile |
Actors: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Marcia Gay Harden
Director: Mike Newell
Genres: Drama, Educational
Academy Award-winner Julia Roberts (Best Actress in a Leading Role, Erin Brockovich, 2000) leads an all-star cast featuring Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhall and Marcia Gay Harden. Mona Lisa Smile is a funny, ... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
You've come a long way, baby
Shelley Gammon | Kaufman, Texas USA | 12/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fresh out of graduate school in California, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) lands her dream job: Art History professor at Wellesley College, an exclusive all-girl private school in Massachusetts.Watson is a "forward thinking liberal" from sunny California - finding herself in a land where women are educating themselves for the sole purpose of marrying well and then making no use of their intellect.Surprisingly written by two men (Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal), the movie has an all-star cast: Roberts, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal (you will be hearing a lot about her in the future), and Marcia Gay Harden... battling their way through the 1950s mentality of girdles, washing machines and pipe-smoking, well-bred husbands.Intending to ace their way through college so they can get on with producing heirs, Watson's students have already memorized the text and syllabus, so Watson re-writes their lesson plan and annoys everyone on campus with her feather-ruffling, "subversive" ideas.I was expecting this film to be a preachy feminist diatribe, but it wasn't. It was about lust vs. love, loyalty vs. society, and heart-felt emotion vs. hiding behind a sweet smile and a stony heart. The film does not present marriage as a farce or promescuity as the preferred option - rather it embraces the idea that a woman can have a family AND still learn and grow and be more than a proper hostess and trophy wife.Watson is not portrayed as the all-wise, all-knowing, always-right person - rather she is someone who awakens her students to the possibility that they can do more than be consumers and baby factories - they can know and understand art and radical ideas - without having to like either... but at least to have a more rounded view of life than the narrow objectives portrayed on television and print media at the time.In the mid-1950s (when this movie is set), Watson's subversive notions do not make her popular with the staff, but they make her very popular with most of her students.While there is no nudity and only a couple of "bad" words used, there are mature themes and lots of implied non-traditional sexual relationships, so parents should be aware. While I am always impressed with Julia Roberts' acting ability, and even though she was the lead - I really think it will be Maggie Gyllenhall and newcomer Ginnifer Goodwin (Connie Baker) that will be most noted for their performances in this film - believable, flawless and truly stellar. Topher Grace ("That 70's Show," "Traffic") makes another impressive (albeit small) appearance into a substantial film, ironically the love interest of Julia Stiles as was the case in "Traffic" and Tori Amos has a brief singing role.In the end, this is a sweet, feel-good movie peppered with some bitter-sweet moments. Make sure you stay for the credits featuring old film reels of 1950s women in action."
THOSE FIFTIES WOMEN...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My daughter, who had seen this film and loved it, suggested that we watch it together. I agreed and was very glad I did so, as I really enjoyed this bittersweet film. It is a well-acted, well-directed effort about a free-thinking art history professor, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), who in the nineteen fifties, lacking Ivy League credentials, manages, through a twist of fate, to get a berth as a professor at traditional and conservative Wellesley College. It is here that she hopes to find herself instructing the leaders of tomorrow.What she finds, instead, is a group of highly intelligent, young women, who are more interested in marrying the leaders of tomorrow than in being leaders themselves. Ms. Watson succeeds in opening the minds of her students to the possibilities and choices life can offer and learns a little about such possibilities and choices herself. She also finds friendship and romance while at Wellesley College. The film also focuses on four of her students, all of whom are given stellar portrayals by the young actresses playing them. Elizabeth "Betty" Warren (Kirsten Dunst) is the quintessential fifties girl, obsessed with getting her Mrs. before getting her BA. She later discovers that one should be careful for what one wishes. She is also a nasty piece of work who doesn't care what misery for others her poison pen invectives and barbed comments cause. She eventually gets her comeuppance in a way that she never envisioned. Her best friend, Joan Brandwyn (Julia Styles), is a beautiful, highly intelligent, young woman who harbors a secret wish to become a lawyer. Yet, at the same time, she desperately wants to become a wife and mother. Hers is a decision between choices. She ultimately makes a choice that causes Ms. Watson some consternation but with which she is happy. Giselle Levy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a young Jewish miss in a WASP environment who finds herself having short term affairs with her hunky professor and with an older, married man. Connie Baker (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a pleasingly plump, pretty cellist who finds true love, only to find it derailed by the ever evil Betty. Marcia Gay Harden is brilliant in the supporting role of Nancy Abbey, Wellesley College's professor of etiquette and deportment, who, one discovers, has not always followed her own staid advice. Noted British actress, Juliet Stevenson, is outstanding in the small role of Amanda Armstrong, the college nurse and closet lesbian, who is still mourning the loss of her companion of many years. Marian Seldes is perfectly cast as President Jocelyn Carr, whose role at the college seems to be that of keeping the well-heeled alumni and trustees of Wellesley College happy with the status quo. Donna Mitchell turns in a stunning performance as Betty's self-absorbed mother, a woman who is a slave to the expected and puts appearances before her daughter's happiness. Julia Roberts is luminous as the role of Katherine Watson, infusing it with an intelligence and natural warmth that radiates off the screen. Though she has a little bit too contemporary an edge, she still manages to carry the day in the role of the forward thinking professor with the Mona Lisa smile.All in all, this is a wonderful, highly enjoyable film in which the social mores and style of the nineteen fifties are well depicted."
Painful Reminder of What My Mother Was Forced Into
Paige Turner | Hawaii | 01/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great "chick flick" movie, one I've watched many times already.
When I first watched it, the film brought back painful memories. I can see how my mother, who came from a family of career women (although typical "female" professions such as School Teacher and Nurse), was frustrated at being shoved into the box of housewife and mother. She was never happy in that role, and after seeing this movie, I can see what tremendous pressure women were under back in the 1950's to conform. When she got married, my mother gave up a job she enjoyed because my father and society expected her to do so.
My mother did not get a college education because my grandfather did not think it was worth educating girls; her brother got the college education. Seeing these bright college girls in the movie was sad, because you knew almost all of them would never use what they learned.
I went to college in the 1970's and was still getting ribbed by older men as getting my "MRS" Degree, snicker, snicker. I never found that joke funny and I still don't. This movie gives the origin of that attitude that still is prevalent today. A college educated woman is still not worth what a college educated man is; otherwise, women's salaries would be on equal par with men's in all professions.
The superb costumes and hairstyles reflect the period and were historically accurate, except Julia Roberts' hair seemed a bit too contemporary at times. Yes, she was portrayed as a Bohemian Feminist from California, but her hair and makeup lacked that fifties Bohemian look. (Note Audrey Hepburn's Hair and Makeup in 1957's "Funny Face.")
The soundtrack was also excellent, reflecting the time period and popular music of the 1950's.
I would LOVE to see a sequel, featuring all the same characters 10-11 years later, around 1963-64. That was such a turbulent year, and I'd love to see how these characters were affected by the political changes and climate of that time."
C. Nichols | 03/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was very pleased with how this movie turned out (except the whole Bill situation could have been taken out. it didn't really match her ideals really..). When I saw previews for it, I knew at once I wanted to see it but was afraid Hollywood would ruin it. On the contrary, I was very moved.I was really impressed how they addressed what is expected from all women, but also how all women are DIFFERENT. On one hand, there is Katherine Watson who believes women should not simply get married and have children, that there is "more to life" than motherhood. On the other hand, there is the university and most of its faculty and students who believe the opposite. And then there are the very few (or maybe one) in between who believe in possibilities... Though the character Katherine Watson has a noble agenda to change the rigid motherly ideals of the school, she has simply fled to the opposite extreme with rigid academic ideals.Though this movie takes place in the 1950's, these themes are NOT irrelevent. Take it from a college girl herself (and many of my friends) - many of these expectations and pressures still exist in different forms. Replace Katherine with your high school, your peers, and your parents, and replace the Wellesley of the 1950s with your grandmothers, your aunts, your friends and you have MY life with a seemingly opposite but very similar struggle.Therefore, I give this movie 5 stars. It realistically depicts the struggle that can still be seen in many women's lives today, but does not provide a cop-out answer for the masses. Like the analogy in the film of the paint-by-number sets, women are not cookie cutter shapes!All the actresses in this movie did a wonderful job. Julia Stiles, Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and more.. I was easily able to relate to these characters, and their development is exceptionally interesting. This film holds much significance to those of us women who have lived it out in one way or another."