MONA LISA is a complex, intriguing, multi-faceted combination of black comedy, love story, crime drama and adult thriller that demands repeated viewings in order to successfully peel back the various layers and get to the heart of the matter. What you find there is entirely up to you, but I believe it to be a sad and sensitive portrayal of a small-time crook trying to fit into a world that simultaneously rejects and baffles him following his belated release from prison. Hoskins, once again stunning in a role that could have been written for him, is never too naive and never too streetwise, more of an amiable combination of the two. There are obvious paralells to his unforgettable character in THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY - in that film, his character was a murderous thug who somehow remained worth caring about (largely by virtue of his utter confusion at the collapse of his criminal empire at the hands of forces unknown), whereas here, Hoskins' character is appealing because he displays an inner core of utmost decency - he seems shocked by the depths of depravity the underworld has stooped to in his absence, he is stunned by his ex-wife's refusal to let him see his daughter, and even the sight of his "tall, thin, black tart" (a brilliantly understated performance by Cathy Tyson) pleasuring an obese businessman with some light bondage leaves him disgusted and furious. In the film's latter stages, he simmers and seethes like a faulty pressure cooker, and having been by his side throughout his singularly upsetting voyage of discovery, we can share his rage and frustration. If I had to pick fault with MONA LISA, then that fault lies in Robbie Coltrane's unconvincing performance as a wheeler-dealer who writes detective stories and sells plastic foodstuffs. It isn't Coltrane's fault that the character seems contrived and tacked on to the story just to make things a little more abstruse (one of director Neil Jordan's most consistent failings), but he seems to be plodding through his role indifferently, rather than living it the way Caine and Hoskins are. Nonetheless, MONA LISA is a very fine film and one that should be seen and digested by anyone with an interest in British crime cinema.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
George, after getting out of prison, begins looking for a job, but his time in prison has reduced his stature in the criminal underworld. The only job he can find is to be a driver for Simone, a beautiful high-priced call girl, with whom he forms an at first grudging, and then real affection. Only Simone's playing a dangerous game, and when George agrees to help her, they both end up in a huge amount of trouble with Mortwell, the local kingpin.
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