Mona Lisa SmileDecember 19, 2003
A free-thinking art professor teaches conservative 50's Wellesley girls to question their traditional societal roles.
Release Year: 2003
Rating: 6.1/10 (31,905 voted)
Critic's Score: 45/100
Stars: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles
Katherine Ann Watson has accepted a position teaching art history at the prestigious Wellesley College. Watson is a very modern woman, particularly for the 1950s, and has a passion not only for art but for her students. For the most part, the students all seem to be biding their time, waiting to find the right man to marry. The students are all very bright and Watson feels they are not reaching their potential. Altough a strong bond is formed between teacher and student, Watson's views are incompatible with the dominant culture of the college.
Writers: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
Katherine Ann Watson
Marcia Gay Harden
President Jocelyn Carr
Dr. Edward Staunton
Girl at the Station
In a world that told them how to think, she showed them how to live.
Release Date: 19 December 2003
Filming Locations: Massachusetts, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $11,528,498
(21 December 2003)
(22 February 2004)
Did You Know?
Normally blonde Kirsten Dunst dyed her hair brown for the movie while normally brown Julia Stiles has blonde hair.
Errors in geography:
When Katherine visits Joan's house to show her law school brochures, there are palm plants in the front of the house. These plants would not survive in the climate of Massachusetts where the film is set.
All her life, she had wanted to teach at Wellesley College. So, when a position opened in the Art History department, she pursued it single-mindedly until she was hired. It was whispered that Katherine Watson, a first-year teacher from Oakland State, made up in brains what she lacked in pedigree. Which was why this bohemian from California was on her way to the most conservative college in the nation.
A disappointing picture of Wellesley College in 1953
As a graduate of Wellesley College, 1952, I was eager to see the movie.
a while I thought maybe it was supposed to be a satire. I had read
but no one mentioned satire. It was so ludicrous, so over the top, so
giving us stereotypes, and so far from my experience that it was
I didn't mind the Julia Roberts character although she is probably
anachronistic. Certainly those young women, so well dressed for classes,
talking back to her in well thought out sentences full of vitriol were
figments of Hollywood's imagination. I remember no courses offered,
in classrooms or rooms in dorms or faculty housing, on "poise," proper
setting, etc. And nowhere in the movie did any of the girls discuss ideas
(except in the art class). The nighttime dormitory sessions were all about
men, getting husbands, and pointing fingers at Giselle, the "whore." In
actuality, we used to stay up late discussing ideas, and we were
about such things as academic freedom.
The plush dormitory rooms were more figments of Hollywood's imagination.
Our rooms were of the bare bones variety. I remember bringing a
chair of my own from home.
I loved my art history and music appreciation courses. They changed my
life. I had known nothing of art before Wellesley and only the Warsaw
Concerto for classical music. But those two courses informed my life and
have stayed with me all these years, enriching my experience. I had a
career as a high school English teacher and my literature courses were
wonderful for that purpose and for expanding my reading. But the art and
music courses were special.
Good acting; good costumes for the most part; the people looked authentic
for the times (except too dressed up for class; we wore skirts and
no blue jeans). It was nice to see some of the beautiful campus. I don't
remember ever taking part in hoop rolling, daisy chain, the opening day
ceremony in front of the chapel.
Finally, what was the point of making such a movie today? To suggest how
far we've come from the 1950s? To ridicule what was then? After all,
was much that was good. I mean I feel so lucky to have been able to go to
place like Wellesley even if it was for the privileged. It certainly was
not as conservative as the movie depicted; nor was it a "finishing
Professors were continually opening our minds to more and more knowledge.
The canon then may have been mostly men (we read almost all male writers
our English courses, but that's how it was). What was wonderful, however,
was being with all women, being able to speak up freely in class, being
to win positions of authority in extra curricular organizations like the
college newspaper. Not having to compete with men.
I was really disappointed, In the Women's Room after the movie, I
questioned everyone there…there were a couple my age or a little younger
and then a few a generation or more younger. Everyone had liked the
One young woman tried to tell me it wasn't just about Wellesley; they were
depicting the 50s in general. But the fact is the 50s in general were not