Mona Lisa Smile
In the fall of 1953, art teacher Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) leaves her California home to go to New England to teach art history at Wellesley. Her female students think they know all there is to art history, so their whole focus is on getting married. Seems as if conformity dictates that being engaged is much more important than having a good education. Katherine is challenged to get these girls to think independently, but she runs into obstacles with the ultraconservative staff and alumni of the school as well as one of the students, Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst), who quickly becomes her adversary. Katherine resists some bullying and serves as a role model and friend to the girls (Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ginnifer Goodwin), all the while trying to work out her own feelings for her lover, Paul Moore, and her associate, Professor Bill Dunbar (Dominic West).
This film is like Dead Poets Society for women. The best part of the movie is Julia Roberts’s complex character, a part that she plays well. And she is surrounded by some equally talented actresses. It’s an intelligent script tackling some issues of the women of the fifties. Negatively, there is quite a bit of sexual dialog and implied sexual relationships in the film, including a professor who is sleeping with some of the students. The film also contains bad language and frequent smoking and alcohol use. For these reasons, Dove cannot award the Dove Family-Approved Seal to this film.