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Mona Lisa Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Mona Lisa” is among Neil Jordan’s best films.

In 1986’s “Mona Lisa,” the story revolves around a fresh out of prison criminal (George) who is down on his luck. He has anger issues, his wife wants nothing to do with him and wants him to stay away from their daughter, and he’s jobless. George eventually manages to secure work as a driver/chauffeur to a stunning call girl named Simone. At first the two don’t get along at all, but they slowly begin to bond and form a friendship. George even begins to fall in love with her. Simone asks George to find a teen girl named Cathy who may be in danger which leads George down a dark path.

Directed by Neil Jordan and written by Jordan and David Leland, “Mona Lisa” is a slow-burn crime drama/gangster film that also feels like a throwback to film noirs. The movie is filled with quirky banter, mystery, misunderstandings, ruses, danger, romance, and death. It checks all the noir boxes, but it never feels beholden to them as Jordan certainly does his own thing here. The famed Irish filmmaker takes a “less is more” approach to his storytelling by not indulging too much information and leaving certain things open to interpretation. For the most part it works well, but I do feel the ending leaves you wanting a bit more. It’s a bit too rushed and abrupt for my taste even though it’s still impactful and stays true to the characters.

Part of what makes “Mona Lisa” work as well as it does is the level of talent on board here. You have George Harrison of The Beatles producing, Michael Kamen doing the score, Genesis contributing a classic song with “In Too Deep” and a cast comprised of Bob Hoskins (George), Robbie Coltrane (as George’s artist friend Thomas), Michael Caine as a gangster named Denny, and Cathy Tyson (Simone). The always underrated Hoskins is in peak form here as George. The actor even earned an Oscar nomination for his work. I found myself most impressed with Cathy Tyson as Simone. She gives a very nuanced performance and plays so well off of Hoskins. It’s a shame the Academy didn’t recognize her and that she didn’t have a bigger career as she is immensely talented.

crime drama, gangster, criminal underworld, pimps

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 2K digital restoration maintains the grit and grain of the original print while providing a nice new upgrade.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono With English Subtitles. How does it sound? Viewers can expect a clean track.

Extras:
* A booklet with credits, artwork, and an essay by film critic Ryan Gilbey.
* A 1997 commentary with Bob Hoskins and Neil Jordan.
* Interviews with Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins from the 1986 Cannes Film Festival.
* A 19 minute 2015 interview with writer David Leland.
* A 14 minute 2015 interview with Stephen Wooley.
* A 29 minute new bonus feature here is a Zoom interview moderated by film critic Ryan Gilbey with Neil Jordan and Cathy Tyson. Topics range from Tyson’s casting and acting, the characters, the rabbit and more.

September 24, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. A fine review for a fine bit of cinema.

    Comment by Mr Wollywag | September 24, 2021 | Reply


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