Mona Lisa (1986) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama / Thriller
Image Entertainment || R - 104 minutes - $17.97 || August 24, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-08-18

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer(s): Neil Jordan and David Leland (written by)
Cast: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Caine

Theatrical Release Date: June 13, 1986

Supplemental Material:
  • Theatrical Trailer

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

Plot: An ex-convict thug and a high-class call girl make for an unlikely and dangerous couple. Recently released from prison, George (BOB HOSKINS) takes a job from his old boss (MICHAEL CAINE) as a driver for exotic call girl Simone (CATHY TYSON) who leads him down a dark path of Londonís underground sex industry. Because George becomes obsessed with Simone, when she asks him to find a young girl still named Cathy working on the streets, he searches high and low and leads him to Simoneís former pimp and others who are connected.

Iím normally not much for the British crime dramas. Movies like Snatch and even Layer Cake for the most part never grabbed me as they did others so I went into watching Mona Lisa with a bit of pessimism on my shoulder but by the end, I was fairly enthralled with the film.

Obviously one reason the movie works is due to Bob Hoskinsí performance which garnered him an Oscar nomination in 1986 (lost to Paul Newman for The Color of Money). What I liked about him is it isnít some over-the-top job where he just overacts, yelling at the top of his lungs and instead it is his quietness that really makes it work and in a nuance sort of way as we see his growth from his first appearance confronting his ex-wife shortly after he was released from prison to the end as everything that had happened before comes to a head.

But even aside from Bob Hoskinsí brilliant performance one cannot ignore the work Cathy Tyson did in her first major picture role (she has since had steady work on a variety of UK television series and TV movies). The role could easily be just a clichť playing a beautiful prostitute with major issues going on but Tyson puts it on well and works against (and with) Hoskins perfectly. One great scene occurs after George confronts Simone about a porno she had done after which she lashes out at him (literally) before both of them breaking down as George wasnít aware of the darkness of her world.

The supporting actors with Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter movies) and Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) Ė in a cameo-esque role Ė both provide solid support, one as a friend and another as an aggressive and scary foe for George and Simone; sorry to spoil it but anything that Caine has a cameo role, it seems he plays an antagonist (see the Get Carter remake).

Neil Jordanís direction also is fantastic where in one case we follow the two leads up an elevator via the elevator at the opposite end of the hallway. It is an absolutely brilliant continuous shot, one that reminded me of Hitchcock as the scene amps up the suspense, after an already suspenseful moment.

In the end, Mona Lisa is a good crime drama propelled by a few great and award-worthy performances mixed with Neil Jordanís directing, in what was only his third movie at that time.


Unfortunately all we get here is the theatrical trailer (2:32; SD). From my research, the Criterion DVD does have a commentary with Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins but since Criterion owns that, obviously it could not be ported onto the Blu-ray.


Mona Lisa is presented with a 1.85 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. While yes, this does look good, especially for a 24-year old picture, but I noticed that especially for scenes shot at night those have an absorbent amount of noise, so much that it was a bit on the distracting side. Now, I cannot blame Image Entertainment because if they had applied DNR, they would (rightfully) get all kinds of hell so I can chalk some of the flaws to the filmís age and looking at some of the daylight shots, they do look crisp and clean.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track though has much to be desired. Although the music, score and audio effects are fairly loud and clear, the dialogue on the other hand, is way too low and I had to crank up the volume just to hear what was being said.


Overall, the Blu-ray doesnít look the greatest and sounds even worse especially when it comes to the dialogue, but this is a great film that is propelled by some fantastic performances and direction by Neil Jordan.