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Katherine Watson is a recent UCLA graduate hired to teach art history at the prestigious all-female Wellesley College, in 1953. Determined to confront the outdated mores of society and the institution that embraces them, Katherine inspires her traditional students, including Betty and Joan, to challenge the lives they are expected to lead.
PROFANITY: 1 GD, several others. SEX/NUDITY: One very mild scene of implied sexual activity. VIOLENCE: None DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Lots of cigarette smoking and some drinking/drunkenness. ACTION: None COMEDY: Quite a bit of humor throughout.
The above rating is an average of the critic reviews below.
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Berardinelli, Internet CriticFull Review Average Mona Lisa Smile is an exercise in relentless mediocrity - a trite melodrama that raises a number of interesting possibilities, then ignores them in favor of taking the "safe" path. In the process, it undermines its own thesis of female empowerment, and is guilty of underutilizing a vast pool of talent. ...the lack of compelling characters and the reliance upon formulas makes this movie a late-night cable TV time killer at best. The most likely facial expression to be elicited by Mona Lisa Smile is a grimace.
Roger EbertFull Review Good The movie may be a little too aware of its sexual politics and might have been more absorbing if Katherine and her students were fighting their way together out of the chains of gender slavery. But the characters involve us, we sympathize with their dreams and despair of their matrimonial tunnel vision, and at the end we are relieved that we listened to Miss Watson and became the wonderful people who we are today.
USA TodayFull Review Average Mona Lisa Smile is more likely to evoke a grimace than a grin. It's Dead Poets Society as a chick flick, without the compelling drama and inspiration of Peter Weir's 1989 film. The movie falters initially because it feels so far-fetched. The romantic elements of the story are even weaker.
Note: The rating
above is our interpretation of what the critic would give this movie based on
their review. We are not affiliated with these critic's in any way.
OPINION OVERVIEW The following is the original "What's Worth
Watching" write-up for this movie.
We collected 208 moviegoer opinions. Mixed would be the best way to describe these opinions. It's clear to see that this is more of a chick flick. Over three-quarters of the ladies enjoyed it very much, rating it "Very Good" or higher. Most of the remaining 25% rated it "Good," which is a little low, but not too bad. Only a few didn't care for it.
As for the guys, there were a few who really enjoyed it and a few who didn't like it, but most thought it was an OK movie.
So, ladies this is a movie you could probably safely ask your fella to see with you, but you will then owe him a guy movie so it may be better to take a girlfriend along instead.
(Roberts) travels from California to the New England campus of Wellesley College
in the fall of 1953 to teach art history. In the post-war era, Katherine expects
that her students, the best and the brightest in the country, will take
advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Soon after her arrival,
however, Katherine discovers that the environment at the prestigious institution
is steeped in conformity. According to their poise and elocution teacher Nancy
Abbey (Marcia Gay Harden), an engagement ring on a young woman's finger is
considered a bigger prize than a well-rounded education.
encourages her students to think independently, she runs afoul of the more
conservative faculty and alumni, including one of her students, the upper crust
Betty Warren (Dunst). The recently married Betty becomes a formidable adversary
when Katherine persuades her best friend, Joan Brandwyn (Stiles), to apply to
Yale Law School - even as Joan is awaiting a proposal of marriage from her
For the smart and
provocative Giselle Levy (Gyllenhaal), Katherine becomes a much-needed role
model and mentor. The sweet and shy Connie Baker (Goodwin) also draws courage
from Katherine's example and gains the confidence to break through her
In a world that told them how to live,
Katherine teaches them how to think for themselves. Through her students'
trials to find their own way, Katherine learns to chart a different course for
herself as well.