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Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection (1986) - Blu-ray Review

Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection

“Didn’t you ever need someone?”

“All the time.”

As director Neil Jordan would describe it, Mona Lisa revolves around the idea of (and I’m paraphrasing here) a man not understanding women. And while the film does indeed center on this theme, Jordan and co-writer, David Leland, give us so much more than that. This 1986 neo-noir is a gritty and darkly beautiful tale about loneliness, desperation, sex, violence, and more gives us a good look into the corrupt underground world of London. Bringing together an unlikely partnership between a low-grade, somewhat oblivious gangster (Bob Hoskins) and a high-class, respectable prostitute (Cathy Tyson), this film continually leaves you intrigued and on your toes.

"Everything about Mona Lisa is absolutely captivating, and thanks to the Criterion Collection, it has finally arrived on Blu-ray"


After serving a seven-year prison sentence, George (Hoskins) immediately goes to his former boss, Denny Mortwell (Michael Caine) for a job, feeling that he is owed for serving time behind bars for Mortwell. After a couple hiccups, Mortwell gives George the job of driving around Simone (Tyson) to her wealthy and elite clientele. As George and Simone start to form an interesting friendship, Simone reveals selective secrets from her past, and he agrees to help her locate a young friend she knew during her as a lowly prostitute at King’s Cross. But in is search, Simone and Mortwell’s conflicting intentions are revealed, placing George in the middle of a situation that is way more complicated that he initially thought and is only exacerbated by his growing romantic feelings towards Simone.Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection

The dynamic between George and Simone is undoubtedly one of the most interesting pairings you will ever see on film. For many reasons, their partnership should not work by any means, but somehow it does as the two damaged people come together. Simone fully submerges George into her unforgiving world. Despite the money and the nice clothes, George comes to understand the harsh realities that Simone faces every day, even if he does not fully understand Simone herself. Hoskins is excellently heartbreaking as the broken, yet loyal man who is desperate to fulfill a meaningful human connection. And Tyson is absolutely alluring as a determined, mysterious woman who is driven by her own desperation to save a loved figure from her past. The two are absolutely brilliant in this dark, unconventional love story.

Jordan’s direction is keen on exploiting the lower-depths of London’s underground. The shots are raw and honest, giving the film a surreal, dreamy quality underneath the streetlights and car lights in the dark of the night. You are lured in, just as George is. It feels you are entering forbidden territory, but you cannot help but wanting to know and explore more and more of it. 

Everything about Mona Lisa is absolutely captivating, and thanks to the Criterion Collection, it has finally arrived on Blu-ray with a new 2k digital transfer, an uncompressed monaural soundtrack, and all new (director-approved) special features. Every dark corner of London is uncovered in this great re-release.

5/5 beers

 

Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- September 14, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The brilliant breakthrough film by writer-director Neil Jordan journeys into the dark heart of the London underworld to weave a gripping, noir-infused love story. Bob Hoskins received a multitude of honors—including an Oscar nomination—for his touchingly vulnerable, not-so-tough-guy portrayal of George, recently released from prison and hired by a sinister mob boss (Michael Caine) to chauffeur call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson, in a celebrated performance) between high-paying clients. George’s fascination with the elegant, enigmatic Simone leads him on a dangerous quest through the city’s underbelly, where love is a weakness to be exploited and betrayed. Jordan’s colorful dialogue and eye for evocatively surreal details lend a dreamlike sheen to Mona Lisa, an unconventionally romantic tale of damaged people searching for tenderness in an unforgiving world.

Video:

Mona Lisa is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative and restored by Arrow Films. The transfer is fantastic. Though some might not like the noise of the grain, it most definitely serves the film’s tone exceptionally well, extenuating the gritty feeling of the picture.

Audio:

The original monaural soundtrack was remastered from a 35mm magnetic track. The menacing music. The bang of gunshots. George’s loud verbal fits and punches. It all comes in perfectly clear in the new uncompressed soundtrack.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

With new cover artwork that perfectly captures the essence of the film, all of the special features offer new insights and reflections on the production and themes of Mona Lisa that still resonate with the cast and crew so many years after the film’s initial release.

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4.5/5 stars


Film Details

Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
104 mins
Director
: Neil Jordan
Writer:
Neil Jordan; David Leland
Cast:
Bob Hoskins; Cathy Tyson; Michael Caine
Genre
: Drama | Crime
Tagline:
Sometimes love is a strange and wicked game.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He'll have a lettuce and I'll have a Bloody Mary."
Theatrical Distributor:
Island Pictures
Official Site: https://www.handmadefilms.film/library/mona-lisa/
Release Date:
June 13, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 14, 2021
Synopsis: The brilliant breakthrough film by writer-director Neil Jordan journeys into the dark heart of the London underworld to weave a gripping, noir-infused love story. Bob Hoskins received a multitude of honors—including an Oscar nomination—for his touchingly vulnerable, not-so-tough-guy portrayal of George, recently released from prison and hired by a sinister mob boss (Michael Caine) to chauffeur call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson, in a celebrated performance) between high-paying clients. George's fascination with the elegant, enigmatic Simone leads him on a dangerous quest through the city's underbelly, where love is a weakness to be exploited and betrayed. Jordan's colorful dialogue and eye for evocatively surreal details lend a dreamlike sheen to Mona Lisa, an unconventionally romantic tale of damaged people searching for tenderness in an unforgiving world.

Art

Mona Lisa: The Criterion Collection

 

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