Island Pictures | Release Date: June 13, 1986 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Universal acclaim based on 20 Critic Reviews
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It is precisely that interplay between tenderness and ruthlessness that is the special excitement of Mona Lisa, one of the year's most spellbinding films. [2 July 1986, p.C3]
Bob Hoskins, who won the best-actor award at Cannes, is ferociously good. George is both a comic figure and a tragic one, and Hoskins never overplays either hand. At first it's hard to swallow this ex-con's naivete, but he makes George's romantic agony so real it barely matters. The 20-year-old Tyson is stunning, and the more you learn about this elegant femme fatale, the better her performance seems. Caine is wittily slimy: his voice always a shade too loud, his blood pressure too high, he creates a pungent cameo of corruption... Jordan has chiseled a dark, sleazily glamorous gem.[16 June 1986, p.75]
Hoskins and costar Cathy Tyson of the Royal Shakespeare Company are an electric couple, with their disparate colors and shapes. She's class; he's crass. Their turbulent teamwork is augmented with sure supporting performances by Michael Caine, as the flesh-peddling villain Mortwell; and British comedian Robbie Coltrane, as George's teddy bear of a best friend, Thomas. [18 July 1986, p.31]
The Associated Press
A disturbingly vivid new film by Neil Jordan for George Harrison's Handmade Films. It is distinguished by a riveting performance by Bob Hoskins, who was named best male performer at the recent Cannes Film Festival. He is certain to receive Academy consideration early next year.
The GuardianDerek Malcolm
It isn't as haunting as Angel, nor as imaginative as The Company of Wolves. But it is tighter and better constructed than either, and the performances flourish as they haven't before in his films. [14 Sept 1986, p.19]
What makes the story seem larger and more important than it is are the quality of the performances -- uniformly first-rate -- and the deftness of the director, Neil Jordan, for opposing the several cultures and thereby causing a clash. [8 Aug 1986, p.D1]
Bob Hoskins doesn't succeed at making the hero's wild mood swings credible, but Cathy Tyson makes the most stunning screen debut in recent memory. The movie seems genuinely saddened, moreover, by its own nasty view of London lowlife. [13 June 1986, p.25]
Mona Lisa is consistently undercut by sentiment, whether it's the cute routines between George and his best friend, a mechanic and junkman, or the "heartwarming" stuff between George and his estranged daughter. In the end, "Mona Lisa" is another movie about the lovable little people; the movie is mushy where it should be monstrous. [16 July 1986, p.D1]