"Mona Lisa Smile" is such an appalling waste of talent it actually made me mad. Scratch that -- furious.
An ironically conformist piece of mock-intellectual fluff about a forward-thinking art history professor (Julia Roberts) rocking the boat at uppity, conservative, marriage-grooming Wellesley College in the 1950s, I'd call it an estrogen-infused "Dead Poet's Society," but even that would be giving the picture too much credit for originality.
To wit, the opening voice-over in which we're told "this bohemian from California...didn't come to Wellesley to fit in. She came because she wanted to make a difference." This gives way to a parade of Eisenhower-era stock characters, like the school's board of directors who bristle at Roberts' "subversive" audacity for, among other things, suggesting that "Picasso will do for the 20th century what Michelangelo did for the Renaissance."
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