Mona Lisa Smile

I was struck by how foreign this movie was to everything I knew as a girl, everything my life was in my ‘formative years’.  As an adult I’ve brushed up against this kind of thing–fiercely competitive polish and ‘society’–but only enough to recognize it when I saw it.

Some of it is the difference in times, or generation(s) gap, but some of it is just societal expectations.  That you will dress so, go to these schools, marry just such a man, and live out a life of strict protocol written out in a secret book only read by those who ‘belong’.

Proof positive that one doesn’t have to search through National Geographic or get lost in the Amazon to uncover a wholly different culture of alien inspiration.

But setting all of that aside, I’ll get down to the review.

The movie was fairly fast-paced for a literary flick, and they did a fairly good job of showing both sides of the woman-at-home choice while remaining true to the ideals of the lead character.  There was some content that would suggest you take the PG-13 rating to heart, or be prepared to answer plenty of questions.  Nothing graphic, just societal issues usually kept to the adult crowd.

The acting was quite good.  I especially enjoyed the performance turned in by Kirsten Dunst.  It was the first time I’ve seen her in a spiteful role, and she carried it off well.  Another strength of the movie were all the interesting supporting characters, including Ginnifer Goodwin.  The only flaw in her character was that supposedly the girl that Goodwin played wasn’t pretty and couldn’t get a date, which wasn’t terribly believable.  However, given the family-based, power playing girls around her, it could have been something as simple as her wearing the wrong socks.

It was enjoyable enough that I felt my time was not wasted, and that coupled with the insights into the ivy-inspired 50’s made the show one I’m glad I’ve seen.  It was not, however, a show I could recomend to all and sundry, as it would not be to the pallette of many and had the occasional irksome inconsistency or plot transparency.  Still, not a bad show.

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