Review of Mona Lisa Smile

Leora Baumgarten '20

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Score: ★★★★★


On Book Day, I chose to watch the film “Mona Lisa Smile.” The film follows Katherine Watson, played by Julia Roberts, who has just been hired to teach art history at Wellesley College. The film is set in 1953 when society’s standards dictated women’s roles. At the start of the film, the majority of Katherine’s students expect to marry right after graduating and live the rest of their lives as housewives.

Throughout the year, Katherine attempts to influence her students. She encourages Joan, a bright, promising young woman, to attend law school. Katherine challenges Betty, another student, to stop prioritizing marriage over herself. She befriends Connie and supports Giselle, two other students. Along the way, Katherine loses and finds love, battles for the respect of her students and peers, and is forced to examine her ideas to determine whether they are as liberal as she perceives.


My thoughts:

I absolutely loved the film Mona Lisa Smile. The characters are realistic and multi-faceted. Each of the main characters undergoes interesting, and sometimes surprising, character development throughout the movie: Joan chooses to be happy; Betty reflects on the values she has been conditioned to adopt; Connie learns self-confidence; Giselle improves her relationships with friends; and Katherine discovers more about herself and her feminism. I was invested in each character and her journey, which to me, is the mark of a good movie.

The movie held my attention for its entirety. I liked the pace of the plot because it allowed the dynamics of the film to be fleshed out naturally.

All of the actors were extremely talented and conveyed the emotions of their characters in a way that felt real and personal.

Aside from the exciting plot and characters, what makes me love this film is that it provokes thought from the audience. As each character questions her ideas, the audience is right there beside her, self-reflecting. I would hands-down recommend this movie to anyone and everyone.


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