Mona Lisa Smile
Rating: Molten. This really is a good movie to discuss with your women friends
(note: Actor names used in review instead of character names.)
Okay, it's a chick flick. Now that that's out of the way, let's move on to the good parts. Great performances by America's favorite Julia Roberts, and some new and unusual roles for Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles make the movie very enjoyable to begin with. The most compelling reason to see it, however, is to revisit the repressive environment that American women were subjected to during the 1950s. My God, I forgot all about that, and it seemed to be not that long ago. The question is, have we come a long way since then, or haven't we made progress? That's the most interesting issue that this movie dumps right in our laps.
Julia plays a non-PhD professor of Art History who is hired at the last minute by Wellesley College because their prime candidate went elsewhere. Coming from Berkeley, she was not prepared for the stuffy and provincial ivy-league environment of the campus. The faculty members were indifferent, the dean was a spinster and the students were spoiled girls from wealthy families who were downright hostile. Kirsten plays the stereotype rich kid who takes part in an arranged marriage that is destined to fail. Julia plays an intelligent student who Julia thinks has the potential to go to law school, not just be someone's wife. When Julia tries to push the envelope by getting the students to (gasp) think independently, Kirsten the evil one uses her family ties to try and get her fired. And a liberating time was had by all.