I hadn't really heard much about the movie going in to it, and that was a good thing because I would not have gone to see it if someone had tried to tell me about it.
However, I did go, and now I have a *lot* to write about the movie and some related musings. This movie tried taking on too many issues, I had to actively take mental notes to keep track -- 29 mental notes to be exact, but that's not here nor there. So get ready for another long entry.
First, I want the soundtrack to this movie. It was set in the 1950's and had some great swing bumps when switching from one scene to another. I was literally dancing in my seat to some of the music. Also there were two scenes with some great west coast swing dance moves. Now I was taught the east coast swing dancing style which is a little more subdued than the west coast, but ... well, one lift move in the movie you'd just have to see to believe.
But that's simply ear and eye candy, the heart of the movie dealt with change. "Progressive" as they called the main character of the movie. A bad thing to the old conservatives. It also dealt with a "woman's role." Should she just go to college then get married, or actually use her degree? (The movie was set in the 1950 when that was more of an issue). Conformity vs. free thinking, and Old vs New were other themes touched upon.
Hmm, while the movie got me thinking and so was a success by that measure, it also prob. tried to take on too much with all the major and minor themes they tried weaving into the movie.
In one scene, the main character sees her boyfriend for the first time in months, and he proposes. She is taken aback. During this time she's grown, no longer the same person, and basically does point out how long it's been since she's seen him and how he expected to just start up where they left off.
That resonated with me. In a relationship I've been in, I kept feeling that we'd take a step back every time I saw that person because it had been so long since the time before, yet she seemed willing to continue from where we left off. One of many problems we had. So that part of the movie hit home for me.
Then again in another scene, an even earlier part of history was dredged up from my personal depths. The students started grilling the teacher about her personal life.
In college a teacher I lusted after had one class where she brought out the "hot seat." She put this chair in the front of the class and said whoever sat in it would have to answer truthfully any question asked, and no question was taboo. She got no volunteers to sit in it, so my teacher sat in it herself. She squirmed on more than one question that class, but kept her word of answering every question put to her no matter how personal.
Now I already knew this teacher was breaking some school rules at that time. She was sleeping with a fraternity brother of mine (I was the only student who knew the two were seeing each other). While nothing happened between her and I, I think there was some chemistry between the two of us too. If she hadn't got together with my fraternity brother, I could see her and I falling into the trap her and my fraternity brother got into.
I know she was impressed that both my fraternity brother and I were more cultured than the other students. (i.e.,, we knew theatre and art and could understand references in those subjects that few other of our classmates would have known). Plus I think there was the thrill of the forbidden with that teacher too. She loved to sneak off to the local bar with my friend and I while being nervous about anyone else seeing us there, either another student or a faculty member.
I helped that "romance" by being a lookout on occasion, and a go between telling one what the other couldn't say face to face. It was an interesting time that semester for the three of us. Although sometimes I got a little too much TMI about that teacher and my friend's sex life.
I took advantage of the situation a few times by doing things in her class I knew she'd let me get away with that she wouldn't put up with in others (Bringing a bottle and getting drunk during class comes to mind immediately as an example -- I was known for that stunt by the other students for the rest of my time at the college, and how no one could believe I got away with it, but they didn't know the back story).
Um, back to the movie, as for the name, Mona Lisa Smile, well, there are several reason but the most obvious one is the scene where they are looking at a picture of the Mona Lisa and one student wonders if the smile is a front to hide some secret pain so the world doesn't know(gee, orignal thought, isn't it? yeah, right).
One of the oddest parts of the movie that didn't seem to fit with the rest was one teacher's obsession with the TV. I'm bringing this up because toward the end of the movie the main character asks if that TV obsessed teacher wanted to go out for the evening with her, and she says no that ??? was about to start and she wanted to watch that instead. The main character says she's going to go then knows the answer to the trivia question on the TV and instead sits down to watch TV with the other teacher. A rather interesting point about how TV is anti-socializing (instead of going out people stay and watch it without conversation), but I can't see how it fit with the rest of the movie.