Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 167 - Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa (1986) directed Neil Jordan

About a week ago I watched Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday, solid film where he plays a London mob boss. In Mona Lisa, he plays George, a character on the bottom of the rung just released from prison. His old boss sets him up as a driver for a high end prostitute Simone. Immediately they hate each other and bicker to no end. Naturally, they grow to care for each other.

This isn't the type of story you think it is though. It's not as simple as two opposites falling for each other, the prostitute with a gold of heart story, or the princess and the frog. It's a story about two characters trapped in their lives, longing for something in their lonely existence. Simone often asks George to drive around the seedy streets of London where she once worked. She is looking for someone she once knew, an old friend that she left behind on her way to high end escorting. Compelled to help the girl that he is falling for, he agrees to help Simone find her friend. What begins as an unlikely romance turns into a thrilling crime story set in the seedy underground of London occupied by pimps, prostitutes, drugs and blackmail. George risks his life to find the girl for Simone with the hopes that she will fall for him because of his faithfulness.

I really liked Mona Lisa. I like the tone it sets, you can practically feel the slime of the streets. But also George's lonely romance is beautifully sad and tragic. Bob Hoskins is really good here. He has the intensity of a pit bull but also the tenderness of a helpless romantic. The actress who plays Simone is also quite good, as is Michael Caine in a rare true villain role.

Grade: A-

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