Mona Lisa Smile | Chicago Reader

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Julia Roberts plays an art history professor who arrives at Wellesley in 1953 to disrupt the staid women's college with her unorthodox teaching methods and lifestyle. We know she's every bit as bohemian as the narrator says because she wears her hair down and gazes pensively at Jackson Pollock paintings. Oscillating between a furrowed brow and her trademark toothy smile, Roberts battles the repressed harpies on the faculty and strives to shake her students out of their conformist mind-sets. Dispensing with character development, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal's lifeless script shunts its caricatures from one predictable plot point to the next. Julia Stiles and Kirsten Dunst are perky; Maggie Gyllenhaal turns in the only creditable performance as a troubled bad girl. Mike Newell directed. PG-13, 117 min.

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