The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Hand Made Films -1986
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 104 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Music by: Michael Kamen
Written by: Neil Jordan & David Leland
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 24, 2010
"She was a tart. He was an ex-con. And she was about to shatter his life forever."
An ex-convict, thug and a high-class call girl make for an unlikely and dangerous couple in Academy Award-winner Neil Jordan’s tale of frustrated love on the cruel streets of London’s underworld. Bob Hoskins stars as George, a working class hood whose growing obsession with the exotic and cunning Simone will lead him down a dark and bloody path.
Neil Jordan's (The Crying Game, The Brave One) 'Mona Lisa' makes art out of manipulation, filth and desperation. Cathy Tyson (The Serpent and the Rainbow) plays Simone, a London prostitute who is more than meets the eye. Just like the Mona Lisa, everyone sees Simone differently. She is a lover, a hooker, a friend, trustworthy, a liar...it's in the eye of the beholder. Cathy Tyson really sold this performance as the high class girl for hire. Her sad chemistry with her new 'driver' George, played brilliantly by one of my all-time favorite actors, Bob Hoskins, was pitch perfect; filled with a poetic subtly that shows you how love and the need of someone to love can make one do and believe anything.
George's new love and obsession with Simone is tested when Simone asks him to help her save a 16 year old prostitute that she was friendly with when she was working the streets. Motivated by having a daughter the same age, and with the chance to do something that might help Simone fall the way he has with her, George uses he free time to investigate the major players in the London's sex game. When George exposes the truth behind it all, is it more than anyone bargained for??
The supporting cast of Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) as a ruler of London's seedy underworld of sex, peep shows and stip clubs felt real. He was not an overblown evil, he was the man who wasnt afraid to be in the trenches and did it with a sadistic charm. Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter series) was George's best friend and the films only breath of air. His comic relief came as a counterpoint to the sad and trapped view we are treated to 95% percent of the film.
'Mona Lisa' is one of those films that should be seen by any film buff. Not because it's a great film, but because stories are rarely delivered in the way this is. It puts faith in its viewer to see inside the looks and the actions of the characters and come up with the reasons to their motive's instead of shoving things down our throat. Like a conductor, Neil Jordan's screenplay and direction takes us on a journey where the dark and dreary streets of London's combat zone and up-scale hotels become characters, manipulating mood and tone. I really enjoyed this film and am going to revisit and seek out Neil Jordan's other work. There is no surprise when finding out Bob Hoskins was nominated for an Oscar and won Best Actor at the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for his portrayal of George. I recommend going in with an open mind and giving this film a chance. It is worth it.
Rated R for nudity, violence and language
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
'Mona Lisa' struts her stuff on to to Blu-ray Disc from Image Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 18.6 Mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 1.6 Mbps.
Image Entertainment's release of 'Mona Lisa' is a shame, really. What a great film, but a terrible transfer. OK still a step over a DVD, but really, not much. Black levels peak out and show so much video noise its just ugly. Dark scenes are the worst and this film has quite a few of them. There are cracks and pop to be scene, but not as bad as Time Bandits, another Hand Made films release by Image Entertainment. Colors are off, things look dull and washed out, and mixing that with a low resolution look with a lack of the type of fine details we look for and deserver in High Definition, this release is a technical mess.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is better, but after further inspection it is more like a 3.1 track as all the sound is in the front sound-stage. This is not a terrible thing as the film really doesn't call for much surround activity, besides some possible ambiance. A dialogue heavy film, I had a few brief moments of low volume, but never lost a word. There is no real use of LFE to be noticed but I didn't really expect much in this type of film. This is a passable audio track with no real problems but no real sonic power either.
Even with a poor transfer, I was sucked into the world Neil Jordan created in 'Mona Lisa'. The acting and tone of the film is impeccable and a must-see for any film buff. Image's Blu-ray release is lacking on special features, only including a 480i trailer. I find it a shame that some films are coming out as is, with no care being put into the master's state. I would have loved to seen this film looking the best it could, and sadly this if far from that. I highly recommend a viewing, so considering the A/V quality it is wise to put in your rental queue and give it a shot.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer