Mar 25, 2012

This might be like kicking a hornet's nest.

Came home last night, eager to watch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  But Renee was watching something else, and was so absorbed/taken with it (and, besides, Girl is 150 minutes long) that we watched her selection, Mona Lisa Smile, instead.  Hoo-boy.

(By the way, Ms Diskowski pulled off yet another stunning dinner last night:  Grilled pork chops, pan-fried kale, and cannellini beans with crispy prosciutto on top.  For whatever reason, Ms Diskowski did not take a photo.  But it was real.  No joke.  We drank 2006 -- the winery sent me an older vintage by mistake -- Hendry Chardonnay, which was absolutely sublime.  It is showing magnificently right now.)

Anyroad, back to Mona Lisa Smile.  Despite a fantastic cast:  Julia Roberts (one of the Wife and I's faves); McNutty from The Wire; Kirsten Dunst (does not make a good brunette, should always be blonde); Ginnifer Goodwin (Renee and I like her, too); Maggie Gyllenhaal (already way too old for her part in the film); Julia Stiles (criminally under-rated); Marcia Gay Harden; John Slattery; Juliet Stevenson (one of my all-time faves); Topher Grace; and even Aleksa Palladino for, like, two seconds of screen time! And despite the film's obvious good intentions and feminist message, Mona Lisa Smile is an awful motion picture.

Where do I begin? The musical score for one thing is so heavy handed and annoying.  In fact, heavy-handed should be the essential expression, describing Mona Lisa Smile.  Director, Mike Newell, goes for every big emotional moment as if playing whack-a-mole.  The "villain" of the picture, Ms Dunst's student character's transformation at the end is wholly unbelievable and unsupportable.  Julia Stiles' "I choose to be a housewife" speech seems like a PC cop-out, which probably is the result of Newell's poor direction and Ms Roberts' sleepwalking performance in this extremely crucial scene.  Sadly, despite this being a possible big Hollywood show-offy role for Ms Roberts, she is not up to it.  I suspect Ms Roberts had doubts about the material.  The absolute worst is the song chosen for the end credits, which is grossly inappropriate, Sir Elton John's, The Heart of Every Girl.  So terrible.

Yeah, I will take Lone Scherfig's An Education over Newell's Mona Lisa Smile every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.
Aleksa Palladino in Todd Solondz' creepy, difficult masterpiece, Storytelling.
After Mona Lisa Smile we watched My Man Godfrey and fell asleep.  It had been a long week, after all.


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