In terms of the gap between the movie it's trying to be and the movie it actually is, Mona Lisa Smile is in many ways indefensible. Yet for all its problems, it's satisfyingly movielike.
Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com, 2003-12-20
Anyone who's ever been moved by a teacher to dream a slightly bigger dream than his parents thought he or she was capable of achieving ought to love the film, for it gets at a truer model of teacher's inspiration.
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post, 2003-12-19
When was the last time you saw a mainstream movie with big, flashy stars that featured a fairly sophisticated discussion of the nature of art?
Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel, 2003-12-19
There are a few reasons to enjoy the film, namely its likable cast, its noble aim -- of dramatizing one of the many small steps that led to the overhaul of women's higher education -- and its unexpected ability to surprise you.
Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, 2003-12-19
A Dead Poets Society for girls, substituting Roberts' luminosity for Robin Williams' mania.
Eric Harrison, Houston Chronicle, 2003-12-19
Such a mixed-up child, but not without worthy intentions and glimmers of realized potential -- sorry, but I just can't bring myself to come down too hard.
Rick Groen, Globe and Mail, 2003-12-19
A classy, handsome and serviceable entertainment that may not change your life, but could help you appreciate how you came to have it.
Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press, 2003-12-19
Roberts asks her students rhetorical questions: What makes art good or bad? Who decides? But the movie answers them as canonically as the syllabus Roberts abandons.
Elizabeth M. Tamny, Chicago Reader, 2004-01-10
Women of the Fifties, rise up in protest.
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, 2003-12-23
Like the turtleneck cashmere sweaters and girdles that tie down these promising women, the movie is trite and trussed.
Desson Thomson, Washington Post, 2003-12-19
Rather than being a fascinating exploration of a much more constrained time in our social history, the film simply feels anachronistic.
Claudia Puig, USA Today, 2003-12-19
[Roberts] is an anachronistic pop-feminist on a mission.
Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star, 2003-12-19
There seems to be an odd idealization, or trivialization, of the characters that makes the movie ultimately unsatisfying.
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times, 2003-12-19
It's hard to believe Katherine could become a beloved teacher or inspire her students, and in the case of Mona Lisa Smile that's the same as saying it's hard to believe the movie.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, 2003-12-19
The movie is only interesting intermittently, and the period details don't feel right.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger, 2003-12-19
Sanctimonious, relentlessly predictable and willfully ignorant of the period it's set in.
Jonathan Foreman, New York Post, 2003-12-19
This is not a feminist movie. It even feels at times like a step back, partly because the cliches are so tired.
Jami Bernard, New York Daily News, 2003-12-19
An under-achieving film about how much women can achieve, featuring actors of such potential, seems more than a bit cynical even by Hollywood standards.
Tom Long, Detroit News, 2003-12-19