Saturday, September 06, 2008

Movie Review: Monalisa Smile


Yesterday I had the good fortune of Monalisa Smile. Post that I tried reading reviews of the movie on internet but I found everyone embroiled too much into what was factually incorrect about the college, or how the extra students were short listed on the basis of how much tanned they look, how many black students were there, how the story was too naïve or amateurish and blah…blah…blah. To each, their own.

Personally, I was deeply moved by the movie. It moved me much more than even “Rock On” did. When I saw the promos of the movie on Zee Studio, only one Dialogue made me decide I just have to watch this movie – Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer? Isn’t it what makes us all do what we want to do? See the similarity with ‘Rock On’. In that movie they say do what you want to do because you will not get a second chance! Ditto here.

To give you a brief outline of the story, there is this teacher who comes to an apparently conservative college to teach ancient art history. On her first day, the girls unnerve her by knowing every thing that she could teach from the syllabus, but that does not bogs her down. She is flattered by the intelligence of her class but slowly she realizes that these very smart women are actually “just biding time until SOMEBODY proposes!” There’s no ambition, no purpose in their own lives. Marriage is the eventual and the future, everyone looks forward to or waits for. What a waste!

She tries to open the minds of the girls to identify, understand and do what they want in life. It is their life as well. They cannot just waste their lives being just somebody’s wife! She encourages them to break out of stereotypes created by the society; they really do not necessarily need to do what others’ expect them to do. They are smart women with their own minds.

Obviously in the conservative college and society where the story is set, she comes across several hurdles, even from the girls themselves, for they had never thought of anything beyond what they were ‘supposed’ to do.

There are several wonderful ‘moments’ in the film. Check out some interesting quotes here.


My personal favourites are as under:

The first one is the conversation between the teacher, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), and one of her students, Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles). Katherine had encouraged Joan to think of what would she love doing if she was not getting married, she said – she would be going to Yale to study Law. Katherine gets her to fill up the application forms and Joan also gets selected but then chooses to get married and stay back.

Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart

(I liked it because Joan knew the choices she had in life – to be a lawyer or be somebody’s wife. She knew she would be a good lawyer, but may be she wanted a family much more than she wanted to be celebrated lawyer. The point is her’s was a conscious decision, and that is what matters. A person who decides to take care of the family is also doing as much as somebody doing another job!)

Another one was towards the end when Katherine feels totally let down by her class of women who were smart and intelligent but not thinking beyond the domesticity and marriage.

Katherine Watson: I didn't realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging... what did it say?
[walks over to student's desk and picks up newspaper]
what did it say? um... the roles you were born to fill!

For me, a movie is not about right camera angles or effortless expressions. Of course, that definitely adds up to a good movie eventually; but what matters most is what thoughts the movie arouses in you, and whether it arouses anything at all. What matters most is what remains, long after the credits have rolled.

This movie stayed with me even though I saw two other movies after that. They did not instigate any feelings in me. This one did create an urgency to find a direction, not wait for things to happen at the usual pace, otherwise I would end of regreeting not doing certain things at the right time!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Reems.. Its my favorite movie too. :) Very thought provoking and engaging.

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