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Film: Mona Lisa Smile
A 2003 drama starring Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles. A 30-something grad student from UCLA named Katherine Watson (Roberts) in 1953 accepts a teaching position at a liberal arts college for women in Massachusetts. Katherine's teaching style is unorthodox, as is her ardent feminism, and while she is welcomed by some of her students and colleagues, she also ruffles a lot of feathers - particularly of the college president and of the head of the alumnae association.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Betty is this unless her Character Development.
  • Break the Haughty: Betty, so much.
  • Broken Aesop: Joan decides to get married rather than go to Yale and is happy to have done so. She tells Katherine that being a housewife doesn't mean that she doesn't have any depth or value. That's a fair point, although it might have worked better coming from a character other than Joan, a straight A student and Extracurricular Enthusiast who actually wanted to "have it both" and had been implied to repress the desire to continue her education in order to fit the conventional role of a staying at home wife. In this context her final decision seems more like conforming tha anything else and her husband's jokes about how it was impossible for Joan to go to Yale because then the dinner wouldn't be at 5 don't make it any more comfortable.
  • Bury Your Gays: Amanda's long-term girlfriend dies offscreen before the film's plot starts.
  • The Cameo: Tori Amos as the wedding singer.
  • Consummate Liar: Bill turns out to be one.
  • Cooldown Hug: Giselle gives one to Betty when she finds out that her husband cheats on her.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Both Betty and Katherine.
  • Fake American: Bill Dunbar is played by Brit Dominic West.
  • Feminism: Pre-Second Wave, more specifically.
  • The Fifties
  • Freudian Slip: Katherine calls Paul "Bill" revealing that she's not into him anymore.
  • A Friend in Need: Giselle and Betty for most of the movie are at each other's throat until Giselle finds out that Spencer cheats on Betty. Not only she doesn't mocks her, but she's the one who fixs her.
  • Good Bad Girl: Giselle.
  • Handsome Lech: Bill Dunbar
  • High Concept: Has been referred to as a Gender Flip of Dead Poets Society by some reviewers.
  • Hot for Teacher: Giselle had an affair with Mr. Dunbar, and clearly she's still quite smitten.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Bill tries to play this card after Katherine finds out that he lied about being a war hero. He even goes as far as comparing his situation to Joan's. It doesn't work.
  • The Ingenue: Connie, and that's why Betty usually picks on her.
  • Ivy League: Takes place at Wellesley College, traditionally a "sister college" to Harvard.
  • Love Martyr: Giselle knows full well what kind of a man Bill is, but can't get over him and would be willing to take him back if he was interested.
  • The Mourning After: Nancy gets drunk at Betty's wedding and reveals how much she mourns her boyfrien who died in World War II.
  • MRS Degree: Katherine complains that she thought she was educating the leaders of tomorrow, not their wives, as some her students are highly capable but have no personal ambition.
  • Really Gets Around: Giselle.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Katherine's attitude borders on this till she gets a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Rich Bitch: Mrs. Warren and her daughter Betty. Betty gets better, though.
  • School Nurse: Amanda Armstrong.
  • Stay in the Kitchen
  • Stepford Smiler: "Is Mona Lisa happy? Who cares? The important thing is that she smiles..."
  • Straw Feminist: The teacher crosses this line when being too aggressive.
  • Token Minority: Giselle is the only Jewish student we get to see, and it's quite implied that it's one of the causes of her being an outcast.
  • Troubled Abuser: Betty, after her husband start cheating on her and even before. She tends to bully people who doesn't fit in the society as well as her, but is in turn treated similarly by her mother. It's also implied that even Mrs. Warren, a bitch as she is, had a miserable married life herself and that's the reason she's constantly pressuring her daughter into trying even harder to fit the ideal.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Most of the character in the movie. Justified since the setting is an Ivy League in The Fifties so a multiethnic university is almost unthinkable.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: When Betty's marriage goes wrong, her mother doesn't want to take her back because her husband's house is her home now.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Sadly Betty's husband doesn't turns out to be so reliable to her.
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