Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa ★★★★½

Neil Jordan’s underworld crime thriller about redemption, loneliness, and friendship, set in a London in transition. Hoskins deserved all the accolades he received; as the smart and mysterious high-end sex worker he falls for, Cathy Tyson more than holds her own. 

No spoilers, but the climax is swift and brutal, with an almost surreal shot of a white rabbit soon followed by the camera swooping in and around Hoskins’ dazed face. It’s among the film’s most kinetic shots. There’s also a breathless sequence on a birdcage elevator, but overall, the look is stylish and understated. It was shot by Roger Pratt, later the DP on 12 Monkeys and Jordan’s exquisite End of the Affair

Double-Bill Pairings:
The taut, intelligent script is by Jordan and David Leland. Jordan would revise the central relationship for The Crying Game six years later. Leland’s script for the following year’s Personal Services makes the more intriguing follow-up. While Mona Lisa takes a dim view of kink — showing it only in the context of sex trafficking, as something that white-haired seniors must pay for — Personal Services warmly depicts a chosen family of fetishists, with a spectacular Julie Walters as the matriarch/brothel keeper.

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