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Mona Lisa Movie Review

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Bob Hoskins gets out of prison and asks slimy gangster Michael Caine for a job. He winds up driving around an expensive call girl (Cathy Tyson). Hoskins keeps a pretty tight lid on his loneliness and desperation, but by caring about his nightly charge, he's in over his head. Neil Jordan would later rework and satirize some of the themes here in 1992's The Crying Game, but Mona Lisa is emotion at its most raw; Hoskins works without a net as only he can. Tyson delivers a lovely performance in her first film. Sadly, for those who admire her work here, she's made few pictures since: Wes Craven's The Serpent and the Rainbow, Lezli-Ann Barrett's Business As Usual, a small role in Nigel Finch's The Lost Language of Cranes, and another brief appearance in Antonia Bird's Priest. One nice touch puts Jordan leagues in front of noir pretenders who allow bloodletting and machismo to speak for them because they have nothing to say, really. A rabbit enters the frame at one point in the story. In any other neo-noir flick of the ‘80s or ‘90s, that rabbit would have a life expectancy of five or ten minutes, max. But the rabbit survives everything—you don't have to worry about that rabbit. Keep watching. The rabbit isn't a Player; there's no reason to rub him out. Not everyone in Hoskins’ world gets off that lightly and as he prepares to stand up to Caine and his henchmen, you hope that this time, things will work out for him. The odds are against him (remember that lonely ride at the conclusion of The Long Good Friday?), but he's going to go down fighting till the bitter end.

1986 (R) 104m/C GB Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Clarke Peters, Kate Hardie, Robbie Coltrane, Zoe Nathenson, Sammi Davis, Rod Bedall, Joe Brown, Pauline Melville; D: Neil Jordan; W: David Leland, Neil Jordan; C: Roger Pratt; M: Michael Kamen. British Academy Awards ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins); Cannes Film Festival ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins); Golden Globe Awards ‘87: Best Actor—Drama (Hoskins); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins), Best Supporting Actress (Tyson); New York Film Critics Awards ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins); National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins); Nominations: Academy Awards ‘86: Best Actor (Hoskins). VHS, LV

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