Mona Lisa Smile

Katherine Watson: Julia Roberts
Betty Warren: Kirsten Dunst
Joan Brandwyn: Julia Stiles
Giselle Levy: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Constance Baker: Ginnifer Goodwin
Bill Dunbar: Dominic West
Amanda: Juliet Stevenson
Paul Moore: John Slattery
Nancy Abbey: Marcia Gay Harden

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Mike Newell. Written by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. Running time: 117 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content and thematic issues).

Central Theme
The feminist path is complicated and both traditional and non-traditional choices are not always what they appear to be. Ultimately each woman must decide what is “good” for her.

In 1953, a time when women’s roles were rigidly defined, novice art history professor Katherine Watson (Roberts) begins teaching at the prestigious all-female Wellesley College, which despite its academic reputation is an environment where success is measured by how well the students marry. Encouraging these women to strive for a more enlightened future, Watson challenges the administration and inspires her students to look beyond the image of what is, and consider the possibilities of what could be. — ‚© Columbia Pictures.

In an Introduction to Art class Katherine asks the basic questions: what is art? what is good art? who decides? She pushes her students to consider each work of art¢â‚¬¦to get beneath the surface¢â‚¬¦and to realize there is no right or wrong answer. The film takes the same position on the issues facing feminists in the 50’s but does so in a caricature-ish way. Exploring the era is a good idea¢â‚¬¦but to do so in a superficial way does not advance the discussion of the important issues, a particular disappointment given the number of young women in the audience. It is interesting to note that at no point did the film take the easy shot, “blame it on religion or the Bible.” Also, the music played as school begins and ends is “LIft Thine Eyes, Oh Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains, Whence Cometh My Help” from Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” which he drew directly from Psalm 121. Undoubtedly it is simply another example of film using “sacred music” in the exploratrion of “secular” themes, but in this case raises and important issue the film does not examine at all–what is God’s place in shaping the role of a woman (and man for that matter)? The Pslamist said, “I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Beliefs num
–The expectation that women will marry and raise children is a stultifying tradition that needs to be challenged.
–The choice to marry is a legitimate one if done for the right reasons.
–Many women do not have to choose between marriage and career-they can have both.
–Future scholars will look back at our age and will marvel at our superficial lives as evidenced in paint-by-number, mindless TV game shows and appliances that promise happiness for the “lady of the house.”

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What are the artistic merits of this film?
–What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
–What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
–What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
–Have the recent changes in women’s roles brought greater happiness and fulfillment?
–How should men and women make decisions about career and family expectations before and after marriage?
–What place does God play in shaping the role of a waomn?

Provocative Quotes byline
–It was alleged that she made up in brains what she lacked in pedigree.
==Narrator Betty.
–Who knocks at the door of learning?
==President Carr to students at year’s beginning.
–Just because something is ancient doesn’t mean it is primitive.
–I love Lucy, even if she is a communist.
–Is it any good? There is no right answer. What is Art? What makes it good or bad? Who decides?
–They’ve got their man—they’re wishing for babies.
==After Katherine asks about the baby buggies in a parade.
–You can bake your cake and eat it, too
–The trick to surviving Wellesley is never getting noticed.
==Bill to Katherine.
–A few years from now your sole responsibility will be caring for your husband and children.
–You want to know something funny? Lenny’s not dead technically¢â‚¬¦He’s married and has kids¢â‚¬¦and a mortgage.
–You are not required to write a paper, you are not even required to like it¢â‚¬¦you ARE required to consider it.
==Students complaining at the uncrated Jackson Pollack.
–I’ve been getting some calls about your teaching methods¢â‚¬¦they’re unconventional¢â‚¬¦We’re traditionalists.
==Dean to Katherine.
–You are this close to getting everything you wanted¢â‚¬¦ and this close to losing it.
==Betty to Joan after showing her new washer dryer and learning Joan has been accepted at Yale.
–Life without you just isn’t life. I love you so much I would move to this icebox if you wanted me to.
==Paul declaring his intentions.
–Van Gogh in a box. Paint by number. Look what we’ve done to a
refused to compromise to popular tastes.
–Come to class or I’ll fail you¢â‚¬¦Are you threatening me? I thought that was my job.
==Katherine Watson.
–If you fail me, there will be consequences¢â‚¬¦I’m educating you.
== Betty Warren.
–I thought I was headed to a place that would turn out tomorrow’s leaders, not their wives.
==Katherine Watson.
–Why not get married as A Freshman. That way you could graduate without actually attending any classes.
–What will future scholars see when they study us? I give up. You win. The smartest women in the country¢â‚¬¦I didn’t realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging the roles you were born to fulfill.
–A perfect ruse¢â‚¬¦a finishing school masquerading as a college.
==Katherine to President Carr
–You made me believe he was hiding me. Why couldn’t you let me by happy.
–I just wanted you to understand you could do both.
==Katherine to Joan about being a wife and law student.
–You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted.
==Joan to Katherine.
–You didn’t come to Wellesley to help people find their way. I think you came to Wellesley to help people find YOUR way.
–Look at this mother¢â‚¬¦(Mona Lisa Photo). She’s smiling. Do you think she’s happy? She looks happy. Let me tell you something. Not everything is as it seems.
==Betty to Mother.
–Lift your eyes, Oh Lift your eyes, to the mountain, whence cometh your help.
==Psalm based sacred music in background.
–Not all those who wander are aimless; not those who seek truth, beyond definition, beyond image.
==Narrator (Betty of Katherine’s decision about whether or not to return to Wellesley.
–Mona Lisa Smile depicts the beginning of choice for women. We thought it was time to get people talking about this issue and how women have choices today.
== says Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, coproducer of the film.
–This is the kind of school which actually offers classes in deportment, grooming and table setting, and the teacher of those classes, Nancy Abbey (Marcia Gay Harden) takes them so seriously that we begin to understand the system that produced Cathy Whitaker, Julianne Moore’s showpiece wife in last year’s “Far From Heaven.”
==Roger Ebert.
–A strangely mixed blessing filled with glossy production values and vibrant supporting performances but suffers mightily from a lack of credibility and the grinding predictability of its plot.
==William Arnold, SEATTLE-PI.
–Sadly, the predictability factor of Mona is simply off the charts — you can almost recite the dialogue before it rolls off the students’ well-developed palates, and the course it follows is a well-rutted road.
==John Anderson, NEWSDAY
–I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.‚ He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.‚ The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. ‚ The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. ‚ The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. ‚ The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
==Psalm 121: 1-8.

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