Mona Lisa Smile: Diet Dead Poets Society? || La Femme Fictionale #5

Mona Lisa Smile: Diet Dead Poets Society? || La Femme Fictionale #5

Okay, I’ve got a movie pitch for you guys it’s about this stuffy conservative town in the 50s that has this school and the school is all one gender and They go a really traditional route And then one year this teacher comes in and they’re teaching like you know arts or something like that and they get super individualistic and a little like expose yourselves to the students and the students start going off the beaten path and the Administration hates it okay. You’ve all read the title you know what’s happening. It’s Mona. Lisa’s smile not Dead Poets Society But to say that Mona Lisa smile rips off Dead Poets Society is like saying Lara Croft Tomb Raider rips off Indiana Jones, it’s superficial at best and we can talk at length about Dead Poets Society And it’s brilliant encapsulation of how toxic patriarchal norms affect not only women, but men but um People actually know Dead Poets Society. It’s a critically acclaimed Oscar-winning film that gets parodied in tributed all over the place and Molly’s a smile Doesn’t our free-spirited teacher this time is Katherine Watson played by Julia Roberts, and this is an actress I honestly don’t think is right for these kind of period roles Her speech patterns behavior are just so modern And you’d think it wouldn’t be a problem when she’s playing the most modern role in the movie But it puts her at odds with the rest of the cast Kirsten Dunst Julia Stiles Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jennifer Goodwin all give these Wonderfully nuanced distinct performances that really makes me feel and care for their characters Unlike the Dead Poets Society boys who I could not name if you put a gun to my head I’m not even sorry The story of Mona Lisa’s smile is more mature Given that its characters are older and dealing with different problems than the wellton voice not only because of their gender But because they are at a different point in the development of their lives the future feels a lot more Looming when you’re a senior in college and next thing you know you’ve graduated And you’re living in your parents house while you work a terrible minimum-wage job and you’re going on auditions to try and get out of there and you’re looking for apartments, and you just want it and I Got sidetracked moving on Lawrence Connor and mark Rosenthal took quite a few liberties with Wellesley College which is a real school presumably to better illustrate the differences between the teacher and the administration and to make things simpler for the audience to understand and on the one hand I get that but um I never know how To feel about men making work That’s supposed to be from a female perspective And that’s generally because you know they don’t get it this one Bothers me a little less because it’s set in the 50s and this therefore permanently dated But it’s still pretty shallow on a text to a level the only thing that’s elevating it is the performances of the cast after Julia Roberts Kirsten Dunst is the highest billed actress and her character undergoes the biggest change of the four students she plays elizabeth warren called betty Oh I’m gonna have fun with you eddie has fully drunk the kool-aid on the whole mrs over ba thing and is the most antagonistic of catherine for her progressive thinking She gets married early in the school year and as the year goes on she comes to realize that not only is married life kind Of unfulfilling due to her husband cheating on her, but appearances matter more to her mother than her well being and it’s kind of heartbreaking After having a breakdown in front of her friends Betty ends up divorcing her trash Husband’s telling her mother off and enrolling in Law School where she will eventually start claiming Cherokee heritage and become a senator from Massachusetts determined to piss off conservatives like she used to be and a couple liberals – That’s good low-hanging fruit Betty’s best friend is Joan Brandt ‘wind played by Julia Stiles And once you get past these somewhat stilted accent that she uses half the time She has the saddest plotline Kathryn takes Joan under her wing more than the other girls Encouraging her to apply to law school despite Joan’s plans to marry and settle into home making Joan gets into Yale Law and initially insists that she can do both, but then decides She’s fine with being just a housewife She gets this big speech about how it’s what she chooses and what she wants and that’s technically feminist, too And I will agree with her except for the fact that she gave up on having both Presumably because her fiance gave her an ultimatum Also, there’s this terrible wine she’ll be in Philadelphia with me What Well, that’s an awful long commute to get dinner on the table I 5 o’clock, but if he would have supported her as she claims Why did she have to put it aside at all I mean is it because she’s feeling the pressure of a patriarchal society Telling her that marriage and babies is the most she should hope for and the most satisfying thing she could do I mean yes Being a mother and wife is a lot of hard work, and it’s admirable and anybody who was a stay-at-home mom good for you But you train for kool-aid Jonah. You bought it You sold out just a little bit Admit it Talk to it all that Being said I do admire the movie for its attempts to show that there are indeed many ways to be a feminist and that marriage Isn’t the patriarchal? yoke of slavery some make it out to be and that it’s just as bad to try and enforce your own views of how a Woman should act while claiming that you’re liberating them People can’t change if they don’t want to it’s honestly that simple. This is best exemplified through Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character Giselle levy Giselle is a vivacious serial dater with a taste for older or often unavailable and Inappropriate men she slept with the Italian professor and his later dating a married psychiatrist and is sexually active to the point of owning contraceptives something that shocks her friends Gizelle admires Katherine more vocally than the others and perhaps because of her sexually liberated ways gives more of the vibe I think they wanted for Katherine so of course revealing that her parents are divorced and her father has a second family Just screams that the screenwriters wanted to say she has daddy issues There are other reasons to be into older men You know in fact gizelle seems like a missed opportunity for more queer representation in the film Because of her confidence in her sexuality she comes off as different from most of the other girls and there are more than a few lines and scenes that seems to imply she likes herself a few ladies to Particularly the baby of the group Connie Baker played by Jennifer Goodwin. Let’s just say if they were men in ancient Greece They would have been banging on the hour and a foul years later people would have been calling them cousins This would have also given her a level of parallel with Amanda Armstrong the school nurse who Provided her with the diaphragm in the first place because well Amanda is she’s a lesbian a lesbian who had a partner that died right before the events of the movie and because of a Conservative college town in the 50s nobody ever actually says the word, but she’s a lesbian That’s something Dead Poets Society has over this movie It’s bittersweet But poignant in Mona Lisa’s smile none of the main characters actually lose Two of the four girls are paired off with boys at the end of the film and the other two are headed off to New York to live together as seemingly Platonic roommates it would have been much more meaningful to build on Giselle’s character by having her flirtatious ways be to cover up her Bisexuality and her feelings for Connie and let me check. Oh my god. That’s barely anything Okay class new assignment You have to go write me all of the sapphic Mona Lisa smile fan fiction and while you’re doing that I’ll discuss our last student Connie is fuzzy as a character kind of undefined and under written I’m not sure if she was supposed to be on a scholarship or from new money But Betty treats her as decidedly lower status than the rest of their friends After being set up with Betty’s cousin Charlie for a Betty’s wedding Connie falls in love with him and Betty just has to go and be a killjoy and tell her Charlie’s engaged to someone else and Connie’s just a fling everyone keeps telling her to lay off Connie, but nevertheless she persists I’m not even sorry your hatred only gives me stir Connie and Charlie do eventually clear the air and get back together at the end of the movie And I’ll be charitable and say that she’s self actualizing by defying social norms and getting together with him Mostly because I don’t want to pick on Jennifer Goodwin and her baby face and her Disney Princess eyes. She’s just too cute amok I’m no monster But back to how this falls flat were Dead Poets Society met the challenge There’s very little connection between Katherine and her students for most of the film where mr. Keating formed a rapport with his students and became their confidant as he talked with them Britain tends to talk at her students And there’s very little to show the actual impact and influence she’s having on them until the last third of the film In what is probably the very best scene of the movie? She’s smiling Is she happy? The important thing is not to tell anyone. She looks happy So what does it matter? I genuinely have nothing snarky to say here, it’s Really well done. It’s poignant and Melancholic and evocative especially after everything that’s happened to Betty for the last year It’s the second best performance Kirsten Dunst gives in this whole movie the first is this It must be torturous running after a man doesn’t care about you. Who’s in love with someone else Who hates you. HE HATES YOU! Betty. And it hurts If the rest of the movie were as good as these two scenes I’d have a lot less to complain about it’s a great encapsulation of the sheer amount of pressure these kinds of Expectations and rigid norms can put on people is it as heartbreaking as what happens around the same point in Dead Poets Society No, but it still strikes a chord arguably because it’s more familiar You probably know someone who has had a breakdown like this or you have been that person yourself The ending of the film also has what I like to call Lord of the Rings syndrome as in too many endings the more derivative Dead Poets Society style ending involves all the girls using Paint-by-numbers van gogh kits to show their individual spirits and styles and even if it’s not as inspirational as Oh captain my captain It gets the point of the movies themes very well But then we have to have the wrap up graduation scene so that Betty can get away from her terrible mother and hear the one Old-timey slur in the movie, and then this really unnecessary voiceover monologue from Betty about what a super special snowflake teacher Catherine was while all the girls bike alongside her car Oh, give me a break The next film that director Mike Newell did after this one was the fourth Harry Potter movie which you know makes you think maybe he shouldn’t do movies that are set at a school and take place over the course of a Year and since these two he hasn’t praise be unto the movie gods Pacing a movie is a hard thing to do especially if you’re going to be covering a full year like this one does Betty’s character development is the perfect example of this oscillating between a slow burn and bricks to the face And I’m sure those pacing issues were very helpful in preparing her for the stop-and-go nature of Congress but now it’s time to actually address Katherine properly I Hate this character, I know it’s not fair to compare Anybody to the late great Robin Williams, but man does Katherine Watson fall short when she’s compared to John Keating She’s preachy rather than inspirational domineering rather than comforting and just so Sanctimonious, oh my god. This is what everybody thinks feminists are like, isn’t it? I’m so sorry Internet There’s just no warmth to her performance even in moments of vulnerability I don’t believe that she’s built a connection with her students I don’t believe any of the sentimental drivel that Comprises Betty’s final speech and I don’t think she actually grew or changed that much I mean for God’s sake her big epiphany Line is delivered not by her but by her useless boyfriend the Italian teacher when we used to sleep with his students Also, what the hell dude? I know they’re probably all over 18, but seriously not cool My point is that Mona Lisa Smile is juggling way too many balls If it had just been about the four students, and we only saw Katherine from their eyes it might have worked But by trying to make her the protagonist the perspectives clash and the message lost its sincerity becoming just another sappy coming-of-age drama with a forgettable message But with all that said I hope people do watch this movie because when it’s focused it sparkles you Know what hang on a second we’re gonna We’re gonna take a little field trip. Maybe this movie needed the fat trimmed Maybe it needed to pick just one of the girls and stay with her to let it solely be her story It probably would have been Betty But it could have just as easily been about Joan or Gisele or even Connie with a little more depth added Maybe it needed to be solely about gender roles and used the art as a metaphor for that rather than splitting it equally Or maybe the filmmakers just needed to spend a little more time doing their research This is Wellesley College. It’s one of about 60 women’s colleges left in the United States And is one of the original seven sisters both female counterparts are Ivy League schools like Harvard Dartmouth and Yale while most of the buildings place at University College mostly did some exterior shooting to happen on campus both Wellesley alumni and current students at the time objected to the portrayal of their school the campus was not as unilaterally White as depicted their modern art classes had actually been well established by 1953 and while students did marry immediately after and during their four years at Wellesley It was most definitely not finishing school disguise And I’m sure you’re wondering right now really You literally had to take us all the way out to Boston College to tell us Elvis and yes I did because this is a real place with real stories worth telling not Fictions that are invented to copy somebody else Dead Poets Society came from a place of truth screenwriter Tom Schulman based the script off his own experiences at a private school Mona Lisa’s smile tried to do the same thing, but there was no truth within the script when it succeeds It’s on the merit of the actresses with one glaring exception Julia ironically, it sums up its own problem pretty succinctly with the van Gogh lecture this movie took dead poet’s societies concept and Tried to recreate it without understanding. What made it so special They put it in a box And they tried to copy it 20 ironically you make a film about looking past the image in the individuality and wind up with something clearing and Safian don’t Hollywood I expect to see a remake in 20 years, I expect it to be good And I see so much as one the hair of Julia Roberts. I am failing you Cox dismissed Messy Baku for watching everyone if you like what I do please be sure to LIKE leave comments and share this video and to subscribe to help my channel reach a wider audience as well as Following me on Facebook and Twitter if you’re feeling generous And you aren’t paying off exorbitant Student loans you can support me on patreon to get early access to my videos for quest future episodes and be considered for cameos Uncle messy and I will see you next time when we will be heading down to New York City to meet Brooklyn’s Finest our My oh my god. This is what people think all of them, and it’s so like Internet. I’m so sorry so sorry I’ll never feminist again Actually, that’s a lie. I’m gonna keep feminist eight

7 thoughts on “Mona Lisa Smile: Diet Dead Poets Society? || La Femme Fictionale #5

  1. Interesting video. Not being a movie buff, I have never heard of of either movie, but I will try to remember to check out Dead Poet Society if I ever happen to stumble upon it.
    Also, I was wondering if you had to keep the movie audio low so as not to get hit with a copy right claim? If it was an editing error I understand, but I was curious. The only reason I am asking is because I couldn't really hear the scenes you were trying to point out, and if I turned it up you would have been way too loud.
    Again, I understand if it was an accident, you are still learning after all. But if you want us to look at a scene with dialogue and can't turn it up without risking a copyright claim, would you consider adding a few subtitles? I know youtube has the auto generated ones, but we all know how well those work. Anyway, just an idea to help improve content.
    Also, I like the now setup! That's a very nice fireplace, and your framing is good.

  2. Sammi you're doing fantastic. All the changes have made a big difference in quality, there are less distractions from your message.

  3. Ok, two things

    1. Marriage, especially in the 1950's, was and is the "patriarchal yoke of slavery." That's the truth. Marriage, from the very beginning, was an institution designed to oppress women.
    2. I don't think the film is even saying what you're saying. Joan's husband only eloped after Ms. Watson made it clear she wasn't happy hearing about his comments, him being caught trying to hide Spencer's cheating in front of Joan, and Joan herself looking disappointed the whole scene when she explains the marriage to Ms. Watson. I think the film is saying that even in happy marriages (see the dinner scene with Joan and Betty) this patriarchal bullshit happened, and how most women really did have to make a choice between marriage and life fulfillment. Joan decides to have a family because as a woman in the 50's it would be hard to start your career first and then have a family, which Joan thinks is something she needs. She thinks it's more important than being a lawyer, which judging by how she doesn't smile when she returns to the party, she's wrong. It should have been a lot clearer imo, but there's some nuance to Joan's arc (hah, get it) that's easy to miss.
    3 (not sorry). You're being too harsh on Ms. Watson. She may not be as bubbly as Robin William's character, but she's no asshole either. She's not a straw feminist either. I seriously doubt any straw feminists wear skirts, have long hair, etc.

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