Playing Mona Lisa follows the life of Claire Goldstein (Alicia Witt), who slowly unravels as various forces of nature turn against her. Claire's life is not unlike the movie as a whole, which starts off strong but meanders to a non-ending that is unlikely to leave anyone very satisfied.

Claire is a "brilliant" 23-year old pianist, which is apt casting for Witt, considering she is also a real-life piano prodigy. On the eve of her graduation from the San Francisco Academy of Music, Claire's life starts to come undone. First she doesn't make it into a big piano competition. Then she gets dumped, then evicted, then just plain whiny as she realizes her family (with whom she is now forced to live) is full of freaks.

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