Plot-wise, George (Hoskins) has just been released after having spent some time at Her Majesty’s pleasure. With his wife wanting nothing to do with him, he ends up getting a job through his old boss, Mortwell (Michael Caine), which involves him becoming the driver for a high class call girl (Cathy Tyson). As George’s rough-and-ready, lower class persona clashes with what call girl Simone expects, the relationship between the two is tumultuous at best. Before he knows it though, George strikes up a bond with Simone and finds himself assisting her as she delves further into a dark and murky underworld in order to try and find a missing person.
As has been so often said about Mona Lisa, it’s a charming, pulsating journey that’s a mish-mash of crime thriller, drama and romance, laced with just a smidge of humour. The key players all sparkle at the right moments, with Hoskins sublime in a turn only bettered by his performance in The Long Good Friday and Caine on scenery-chewing ‘nasty bastard’ form. Like-wise, Cathy Tyson puts in a multi-layered and excellently-delivered shift as call girl Simone. Away from that, Robbie Coltrane lightens the mood a little as George’s best mate and Clarke Peters does a decent enough job in a pivotal role to a lot of the seedier goings-on of the film. In the smaller supporting roles, though, a couple of performances do stand out a little for all the wrong reasons, with Sammi Davies putting in a particular stinker of a performance as a 15-year-old tied up in a world of violence and sex.
With all of the fantastic re-releases that Arrow Films have put out as of late, so much of the appeal of these products is the extras that accompany the main feature. In this regard, Mona Lisa sadly falls a little short. There’s a great commentary from director Jordan and star Hoskins, and there’s some nice, reflective new interviews with Jordan, writer David Leland and producer Stephen Woolley, but in comparison to some of the bursting-at-the-seams releases that Arrow have put together previously, Mona Lisa just feels like it’s been a little short-changed.
In fairness, what bonus content is included will all be of interest to anybody with an affinity for this classic of British filmmaking, and Mona Lisa has never smiled as bright as with this newly restored HD transfer of one of the brightest shining lights of British cinema. Even now, as Mona Lisa approaches its twentieth anniversary, the film is still as enjoyable and gripping as its ever been.
Special Features: Commentary with Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins / Interviews / Theatrical trailer
INFO: MONA LISA / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: NEIL JORDAN / SCREENPLAY: NEIL JORDAN, DAVID LELAND / STARRING: BOB HOSKINS, CATHY TYSON, MICHAEL CAINE, ROBBIE COLTRANE, CLARKE PETERS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW