Mona Lisa (1986)

Mona Lisa (1986)

A neo-noir love story that dives deep into London’s underworld

7.7

Movie

United Kingdom
English
Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller
1986
NEIL JORDAN
Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Clarke Peters
105 min

TLDR

Also, shout out to that Genesis drop– what a banger.

What it's about

After being recently released from prison, low-level gangster George tries to restart his life through a new job from his former boss– being a driver to high-class call girl Simone.

The take

With a driver protagonist, trying to reintegrate with the rougher parts of his home city, forming a connection with a woman way out of his league, Soho-based Mona Lisa has spawned comparisons to the New York-classic Taxi Driver (1976), but this British neo-noir has a completely different tone and spirit, with a completely different conclusion. Mona Lisa has, of course, Nat King Cole crooning the similarly named tune, and as George gets enamored with Simone, both roles played fantastically by Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson respectively, they both keep their cards to their chest, as if similar to the famous painted smile. The ending may be a tad abrupt, but Mona Lisa has a lot of compassion and hope for these two trying to make a better life for themselves, a lot more than expected from the genre.

What stands out

The two leads. Cathy Tyson has an untouchable aura of elegance as Simone, a certain aura that sticks even when tied down to a bed frame, dressed in leather lingerie, but the way Bob Hoskins portrays George is so endearing, that it’s easy to hope he succeeds in his quest to being a good man.

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