I'm a sucker for these kinds of movies. If you liked "Dead Poets' Society" and "The Emperor's Club," then "Mona Lisa Smile" is right up your alley. Julia Roberts plays a young teacher who aspires to make a difference in Wellesley in the 1950s. She wants to teach the young women in the college to think for themselves, to not accept that they are just meant to get married and become housewives. By now, we are familiar with the Vulnerable and Awkward Julia: the slightly furrowed brow, the uncertain walk, the wide, tentative smile, the resolute lips, the eyes. They are put to good use here.
The supporting cast is very strong as well. Particularly Kirsten Dunst as the proper young socialite who does what is expected of one in her station. There is an undertone of dissatisfaction even though she is at the brink of achieving all of her dreams: a good husband, a nice house, a society wedding. However, Maggie Gyllenhal as the wild Giselle, steals every scene she's in. She gives her character a backbone even while she is taken advantage of by the men she dallies with. Tori Amos has a cameo where she sings two songs--both of which are featured in the soundtrack. She sounded really good.
Call up your girlfriends, this one's cause for a night out. Or if you can cajole the boyfriend, I think he may find it entertaining as well. No--there are no gratuitous nude scenes or flashes of boob, but I hope you have the sense not to have a boyfriend that makes these a criteria to go see a movie. It's okay though to have a boyfriend that will go see this movie with you in hopes of getting laid. The movie opens next Friday (Dec 19th).