Film reviews

Mona Lisa Smile, Dir; Mike Newell, Cert; 12A

I could never understand it when people said about a bad film "I want those two hours of my life back". After all, if a movie really IS that poor, surely you don't actually HAVE to stick it out to the bitter end.

However, now that I am regularly required to give my thoughts upon forthcoming releases to the big screen, I can finally say that I understand!

The main crux of a rather insipid story revolves around latitudinarian art professor Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), who is faced with the difficult task of conveying her methods and ideals to a group of overprivileged, conservative students at Wellesley College for Girls in the 1950s.

Maybe it's just because of the kind of roles we are accustomed to seeing Roberts in, but to my mind, she was woefully miscast here and I had major problems believing she really was the free spirited, quick witted apotheosis she attempted to portray.

The students were won over embarrassingly quickly after a shaky start, and the schmaltz factor crashed through the roof far too many times throughout for my liking.

The only (and there really was only one) redeeming factor here was the performance of Maggie Gyllenhaal as the "school slut with a heart", Giselle Levy. She was utterly convincing as usual, and totally outshone the two other supporting actresses in this bland turkey of a film (Julia Stiles and Kirsten Dunst).

In fact, Gyllenhaal's performance is the sole reason I've given this pitiful effort any points at all! One can only hope that she chooses her material more carefully next time. 2/10


Tone E


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