Mona Lisa (1986)

Mona Lisa (1986), directed by Neil Jordan.

First review

After seven years in prison, George is out and looking for some compensation from his old gang. Times have changed, loyalty has vanished, and he doesn't fit in anywhere. He still has his Jaguar, so they give him a job chauffeuring Simone, a high-end call girl, around London.

Of course he falls in love with her, but she has other plans, searching for a young woman she used to work with, and this takes them to all the sleazy locations of the sex trade. George has a daughter of about that age he is not allowed to see, and the parallels bother him. The injustice of how the women are treated begins to gnaw at him and he focuses on a particularly vicious pimp. He gets a gun. George is an unlikely hero, but his "tall thin black tart" takes him to some strange places. In the end he can't save them.

George's tragedy is that his love for Simone is not returned, not in the way he wants. His salvation is that his daughter is not lost to him yet.

Great performances from Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, and Michael Caine as the dangerous mob boss. Robbie Coltrane is the best friend and comic relief.

Michael Kamen score, with tunes by Nat King Cole and mid-80s ambiance provided by Genesis, "In Too Deep".

Available on Blu-ray. Very low-end. I remember the film looking grungy, but nothing like this.

Second review

Q: "Why do they meet in a church?"

A: "It's the one place no one ever goes".

Notes after a watch of the Criterion Blu-ray:

Score by Michael Kamen -- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Brazil (1985), The Dead Zone (1983), Edge of Darkness (1985), License to Kill (1989).

Photographed by Roger Pratt -- Brazil (1985), The End of the Affair (1999), The Fisher King (1991), Year of the Comet (1992).

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion and an older Image Entertainment disc; you can see comparisons between these and a region B Blu-ray from Arrow at DVDBeaver). Criterion used the Arrow restoration.

Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins provide an edited commentary track, an education from both.