Mona Lisa (film)
original film poster
|Directed by||Neil Jordan|
|Produced by||Stephen Woolley|
|Written by||Neil Jordan
|Music by||Michael Kamen
Genesis (song "In Too Deep")
|Edited by||Lesley Walker|
|Distributed by||Island Pictures|
Mona Lisa is a 1986 British neo-noir mystery drama about an ex-convict who becomes entangled in the dangerous life of a high-class call girl. The film was written by Neil Jordan and David Leland, and directed by Jordan. It was produced by HandMade Films and stars Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson and Michael Caine.
The film was nominated for multiple awards, and Bob Hoskins was nominated for several awards for his performance (including the Academy Award for Best Actor), winning the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
George (Hoskins), a low-level working-class gangster recently released from prison, is given a job by his former boss, Denny Mortwell (Caine), as the driver and bodyguard for a beautiful, high-priced prostitute named Simone (Tyson). Mortwell also wants George to gather information on one of Simone's wealthy customers for blackmail purposes. Simone, who has worked hard to develop high-class manners and an elite clientele, initially dislikes the uncouth and outspoken George, and he regards her as putting on airs. But as George and Simone find out more about each other, they form a friendship, and George begins to fall in love with her. George agrees to risk his own life to help Simone find her teenage friend Cathy (Hardie), who has disappeared, and whom Simone fears is being abused by her violent former pimp, Anderson (Peters).
George increasingly finds himself torn between his feelings for Simone, his obligations to his boss Mortwell, and his relationship with his teenage daughter Jeannie, a sweet normal girl who has matured while he was in prison and wants to have her father in her life. When George finally finds Cathy and reunites her with Simone, he discovers that Simone and Cathy are lovers, and that Simone doesn't care about him and only used him to find Cathy. Mortwell and Anderson then arrive to take back control of Simone and Cathy, and an enraged Simone shoots them both and then threatens to shoot George, but he punches her, takes the gun and leaves, upset at her ingratitude. Freed of his underworld obligations, George returns to a more normal life, working in his friend's garage and spending time with Jeannie.
The film received positive critical reaction when released in 1986. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote of the two main characters "The relationship of their characters in the film is interesting, because both people, for personal reasons, have developed a style that doesn't reveal very much." However, Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times, dismissed the film as "classy kitsch." Halliwell's Film Guide argued "only this actor could make a hit of this unsavoury yarn, with its highlights of sex and violence. But he did."
Bob Hoskins was praised for his performance and was awarded the Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Prix d'interprétation masculine at the Cannes Film Festival, and other awards. Despite this heavy acclaim, he lost the Academy Award for Best Actor to Paul Newman in The Color of Money.
Awards and nominations
- Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984–2000, Orion Books, 2005 p54
- Ebert, Roger (2 July 1986) "Review: Mona Lisa" Chicago Sun-Times (Retrieved: 12 March 2010)
- Canby, Vincent (13 July 1986) "Movie Review: Mona Lisa (1986)". The New York Times (Retrieved: 12 March 2010)
- Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition. ISBN 978-0-00-638868-5.