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Mona Lisa

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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(Apr 04, 2006)
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Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

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Editorial Reviews

Bob Hoskins — in the once-in-a-lifetime role that earned him an Oscar® nomination and won both the Cannes Film Festival and British Academy Awards for Best Actor — stars as George, a brutish mob soldier in the London underworld who has just been released from prison. Anxious for work, he’s given the job of chauffeuring elegant prostitute Simone (Cathy Tyson, in her stunning film debut) by gangster boss Mortwell (an unforgettable performance by Michael Caine). What follows is the film CBS Morning News calls "vivid and astonishing," a remarkable combination of uncommon love story and shocking thriller that remains one of the most startling dramas of the decade. Robbie Coltrane(OCEAN’S TWELVE), Clarke Peters (THE WIRE) and Sammi Davis (HOMEFRONT) co-star in this internationally acclaimed smash directed and co-written by Neil Jordan that was nominated for 6 British Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Direction and Best Film.

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer
  • 8-page Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane, Clarke Peters
  • Directors: Neil Jordan
  • Writers: Neil Jordan, David Leland
  • Producers: Chris Brown, Denis O'Brien, George Harrison, Nik Powell, Patrick Cassavetti
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: April 4, 2006
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,676 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mona Lisa" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Mona Lisa" remains one of Neil Jordan's best movies. Bob Hoskins plays George a small time thug who took went to prison to protect his boss Mortwell (Michael Caine). To reward George for his sacrifice he gives him a job chaffeuring around Simone (Cathy Tyson)a high priced call girl that Mortwell wants to keep track of. Despite her initial chilly reception, George falls in love with her. Ultimately she asks him to make a major sacrifice so she can be free of Mortwell and his world. It's a price that leads to tragedy and violence.

A brilliant film noir, Hoskins earned an Oscar nomination for his performance and really he deserved it. His portrayal of George is complex. While he's a criminal, he's also surprisingly naive and innocent in his own way and the code of conduct he follows in his life reflects much more solid values than that of a petty crook. Michael Caine shines in a pivotal but small role as Mortwell. Caine has never given a performance as nasty and chillingly evil as he does here. Cathy Tyson ("The Serpent and the Rainbow", "Priest") also deserves kudos for her performance as Simone. Although the surface of her character is chilly she hints at the depths of emotion raging beneath the surface of this sophisticated and sad woman.

The Criterion edition of this looks exceptionally good with nice color reproduction and a crisp, sharp picture. It appears that the same master that was used for the 1996 laserdisc was used here, though, and it probably should have been remastered from a new digital transfer. While presented in its original format this isn't an anamorphic transfer that I can tell which is, again, another reason to update this and create a high definition DVD.
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Format: VHS Tape
Fresh out of jail and trying to reconnect with his daughter, Hoskins is a working stiff/street thug who gets a job from crime boss Michael Caine chauffering a "high-class black tart" played by Cathy Tyson. The Hoskins character is remarkably naive, falls in love with the prostitute and tries to protect her, and disaster ensues.
There's an unforgettable moment, when they're both in tears, hiding behind silly plastic eyeglasses in a garish carnival setting, and, trying to explain her odd situation that he's just beginning to understand, she says, "Haven't you ever needed someone?" and he squeezes out the reply: "All the time."
It's a remarkably tender story in a chokingly ugly environment. Caine is gruesomely sleazy.
I remember seeing this when it first came out, about the time of "Blue Velvet" and "Brazil"; what an amazing era that was! All three movies even had ironically sweet or upbeat theme songs from a few decades before.
Director Neil Jordan later moved on to the weirder pastures of "The Crying Game," and then the glossy jobs "Interview with the Vampire" and now "The End of the Affair," but I still consider this his best -- not to mention Bob Hoskins's most incredible acting work.
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Format: VHS Tape
I believe Neil Jordan put together a work of perfection here. I deeply cared for the two main characters (played brilliantly by Hoskins and Tyson). The portrayal of the pain of isolation and the hopelessness of not being able to connect with their desires touched me at a level only great works can do. All the details of a film are done with perfection.(Don't forget the fine little performance of Robbie Coltrane who later became the main charater in "Cracker".) But given the individual stengths of the fascinating plot, the extraordinary performances and the effective filming and music, it is the whole, the gestalt of this work, that reaches the highest level of art.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite movies and is a film I enjoy no matter how many times I see it. I had the standard DVD and was happy to see it was available on Blu Ray. The movie is wonderful from start to finish with outstanding performances by Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson and of course the great Robbie Coltrane. The supporting cast is first rate and the direction by Neil Jordan is, as one would expect, terrific. Some of the themes are reminicent of those in Jordan's "The Crying Game". However, this is a much better film that realistically portrays the slimy, dirty and explotive world of illegal prostitution from the Call Girl to the sexually abused young girl. The film revolves around the relationship between a prostitute (Ms Tyson) and her driver(Hoskins) a relationship that goes from distain and animosity to an interesting kind of friendship, understanding and love. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. The Blu Ray version is another matter. While mostly OK the darker scenes, which are many, leave much to be desired. The dark colors are extremely grainy and at times fuzy and distracting. I would recommend the Standard DVD over this Blu Ray version.
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Format: DVD
Firstly I would say that if you have in your library John Mackenzie's THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, also available in the Criterion collection, and Neil Jordan's MONA LISA, you already have a good specimen of what the British cinema was able to offer in the eighties. A fabulous actor, Bob Hoskins, is present in both movies; he won the best actor prize at the 1986 Cannes Festival for MONA LISA.
Neil Jordan began his career as a writer and is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting film directors nowadays. It's always challenging for the common viewer to watch a movie directed by a former writer. One often wonders why the director has left his books for the cinema. Some of these ex-writers use the camera as if they were handling a pen and the result is dreadful. Or too intellectual. Fortunately, with MONA LISA, Neil Jordan has created a stunning visual world and George and Simone's night wanderings through the London underworld an unforgettable cinematographic journey.
MONA LISA develops a lot of themes that will touch you in a way or in another. The different levels of the movie are so well mingled in the story that you will be able to watch MONA LISA several times and still discover little pearls hidden by the brilliant director. At the end of the movie, I just wanted to check the sound quality of the commentary track recorded in 1996 by Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins and I found myself trapped into MONA LISA for an immediate second screening.
Apart from the commentary, this Criterion DVD offers the theatrical trailer and a one page written Neil Jordan commentary.
A DVD for your library.
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