Directed by Neil Jordan
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane
“What is man? A miserable little pile of secrets”
There has always been something about Bob Hoskins I have always liked. Hoskins has the demeanor of an everyday, blue collar man that radiates a down to earth sincerity that instantly makes him more relatable to a movie audience than the ice cold arrogance of an actor like….Richard Gere. Okay, I said it, not a big fan of Gere. I digress. So, how is this film from 1987 where he partnered with director Neil Jordan (Interview with a Vampire, The Crying Game)?
The film begins as George (Bob Hoskins), is recently released from prison and is given a seemingly cushy job as the driver for a high-class prostitute named Simone (Cathy Tyson) by his former boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine).
As George and Simone find out more about each other, they form an unlikely friendship despite terribly different motivations for the work they find themselves in. George is constantly dealing with pressure from Mortwell to find out as much as he can about one of Simone’s ‘regulars. Who is this “client” that has Mortwell’s interest piqued? It just so happens to be a wealthy businessman that frequently does business with Mortwell.
George is also urged by Simone to help her find an abused friend from her murky past. George’s association with Mortwell and Simone are heading toward an emotional and possibly violent climax.
The story of Mona Lisa is psychologically dark and characters true motivations aren’t crystal clear, But rather murky and untrustworthy. It would be easy for a casual viewer simply find the character of the crime boss Mortwell to be the most miserable and ill intended, but what are Simone’s and even George’s real intent, as you watch the credits roll?
The story, acting and direction of Mona Lisa is first rate. As expected, the performances by Hoskins and Caine are fantastic; however, the performance of Cathy Tyson as the emotionally conflicted Simone prostitute is nuanced and visceral.
Also, this is not the London that you may have seen in other British TV shows and films. You won’t see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey or Windsor Castle. No, this is the seedy part of the city and the backdrop of porn shops, greasy diners, strip clubs and sidewalks filled with thugs, prostitutes, junkies and other unsavory types is the perfect environment for this story. Just in the same way that Taxi Driver portrayed New York City as gritty, dirty and unforgiving, this is showing you a side of life not included in any itinerary provided by a travel agent.
Jordan would go on to direct The Crying Game and many film fans compare Mona Lisa to that film. I can see the similarities, but this is a very strong film in its own right and deserves to be viewed and appreciated in its own right. And after viewing the film, you will see that the plots and atmosphere of the two films are much different.
Mona Lisa would make a great addition to the British film section of your home film library or at least a good add to the Netflix queue for the upcoming weekend.
Presented in a 1080p transfer, Mona Lisa looks much better than previous DVD release of the film. The color palette is vibrant and the black levels are decent. However, the image detail leaves something to be desired.
Presented in lossless LPCM mono mix, the film sounds better than it has in other releases. The dialogue track is crystal clear and easily understood. The sound mix, while not spectacular, is straightforward and no-frills.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film is presented in a standard blu amaray case with artwork appropriate for the film presented.
Other than the original trailer for the film, there are no other bonus features offered.
Overall (Not an Average) 6.5/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 1/10
Overall (not an average) 6.5/10