Review Date: December 11, 2003
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
Producers: Deborah Schindler, Paul Schiff
Julia Roberts as Katherine
Julia Stiles as Joan
Kirsten Dunst as Betty
Roberts wasn't as grating as usual either (except for one very obvious "Roberts cackle"....brrrrrr) From the four lead girls, the lesser known actress, Ginnifer Goodwin, impressed me the most with her heartfelt performance. Marcia Gay Harden was also a gas as Roberts' roommate, but could have done with more screentime. The characters as a group weren't particularly original though, with all the usual suspects present and accounted for, including "the cigarette-smoking slut", "the perfect Patty", "the rich bitch" and "the sensitive fattie" Thankfully for us, the actresses each provided their characters with some color and rode the fine line between the third and first dimensions (except for Dunst's character, who was about as one-sidedly bitchy as one can get-where's Peter Parker when you need him!) Roberts was also decent and fit the bill in terms of a woman out of place, but her romance with a local teacher wasn't enticing and ultimately, unsatisfying. I did appreciate her convictions though, as well as the film's somewhat original scene in which she, herself, gets schooled by one of the girls. The film was also very well paced, didn't last as long as you'd think, offered a nice rendition of the purer days of old, as well as some sweet cinematography. But in the end, this movie is about inspiration, particularly for women and particularly for girls who are still going through their growing stage. I remember inspiring a certain girl in my life a few years ago. It was a great time and very fulfilling for both of us. Then one day, she told me to go fuck myself.
The point is...inspiration is good, especially around Christmas time, so guys...if your girlfriend, your booty call or yes, even your mom (whose generation will surely get even more out of this film since they were likely faced with similar life-challenging decisions growing up) asks you to accompany her to MONA LISA SMILE, say "yes" and don't worry too much about it. It's actually a decent time. As for the ladies, well, don't expect anything near as deep as say, THE HOURS, but do expect plenty of 'rah-rah' for the home team and 'boo-boo' against, well...men. And by the way, it is me or is Mona Lisa a douchebag?