Mona Lisa on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review


Mona Lisa is one of those films I hadn’t actually got round to seeing before, prior to this new Blu-ray release, which is also available as part of a Blu-ray boxset with The Long Good Friday.

Having been released from prison, George (Bob Hoskins) is in need of a job and he gets one driving high class prostitute Simone (Cathy Tyson) about. He becomes a bit too obsessed with her, though, as he sees the type of world she’s involved with, and while she knows what she’s getting himself into, for George, his entire world has changed in all the time he’s been inside. It’s obviously been a while since he saw daylight, too, as the demographic has completely altered in his home town and he proves himself as a racist.

There’s also good support from Robbie Coltrane as mad artist friend Thomas, and when George describes Simone to him as a lady, Thomas responds: “I thought you said she was a tart. A tall, thin black tart.” George replies: “Yeah, but she’s still a fackin’ lady!!”; plus The Wire‘s Clarke Peters (aka Lester Freamon) as Simone’s pimp Anderson, and the gorgeous Kate Hardie as young prostitute Kathy. And it’s a shame that Ms Hardie just hasn’t made as many films and TV series as she should’ve done.

Oh, and fans of The Young Ones will remember Pauline Melville, who plays George’s wife, as Vyvyan’s Mum.

While watching this film, I never quite understood how a someone in her profession can earn enough to justify hiring a driver for the entire night, but it provides a springboard for a dark and seedy tale which gives plenty to Hoskins for him to get his teeth stuck into and get angry about, and it shows that his character just can’t trust anyone.

Once drinking Bloody Marys, and eventually persuaded in the direction of a cup of tea, it made me laugh when Bob Hoskins stumbles, confused, into a boudoir, is forced to pay £5 for a glass of shoddy champagne, and when he sees they have a kitchen, he instead asks if he can have a cuppa. Naturally, he gets told to piss off 🙂

Overall, Hoskins is on fine form as ever – leading to winning a BAFTA for this performance as well as getting an Oscar nomination, but as his character goes from A to B in the film – and it does have a decent conclusion, the road to get to B does feel a bit too hit and miss with the whole thing coming across as less than the sum of its parts. This could be attributed to the fact that David Leland wrote the script, and then – albeit to their agreement – director Neil Jordan took it and then rewrote it and rewrote it and rewrote it…


Bob Hoskins and Cathy Tyson.

The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, and in similar fashion to The Long Good Friday, it has been restored with a new 2K transfer, cleaning up any issues as they go, and it looks absolutely wonderful. Any issues you see will be down to how it was originally filmed, and fans of this film can rest assured that they have got the Blu-ray they deserve. It looks fantastic on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV with a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.

As for the audio, it’s in the original mono and, so it won’t be a special FX bonanza, but it delivers exactly what it was meant to, back in the day.

The extras are as follows:

  • Interviews: First up is Neil Jordan (19:58), from whom we learn that the presence of Michael Caine, even in a comparatively small role, allowed for the financing to go through, and how other choices for the lead included Sean Connery, plus he looks back at the film and debates whether he’d do anything differently.

    There’s also interviews with producer Stephen Woolley (13:37) and writer David Leland (19:02). Each one is split into more than one section, but none of them are chaptered, which is a shame.

  • Trailer (2:32): In n approximate 16:9 ratio.

  • Audio commentary: with Neil Jordan and Bob Hoskins.

So there’s not too much compared to the usual Arrow release, but this film is best served by buying The Long Good Friday boxset which contains a ton of extras as described in that review.

As you put the disc in, you get clips of from the film plus a small piece of Nat King Cole singing “Mona Lisa”. When it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Arrow, like many other distributors, go for a low 12 however long the film. I would like them to increase that number. Subtitles are in English.

Mona Lisa is out now on Blu-ray and check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.


Michael Caine is sat on a giant hand, not anything rude, before you ask 😉


Detailed specs:
Running time: 104 minutes
Year: 1986
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: July 6th 2015
Chapters: 12 FCD1080E
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Uncompressed PCM 1.0 Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 1.85:1
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Neil Jordan
Producer: Barry Hanson
Screenplay: David Leland and Neil Jordan
Music: Francis Monkman

George: Bob Hoskins
Simone: Cathy Tyson
Mortwell: Michael Caine
Thomas: Robbie Coltrane
Anderson: Clarke Peters
Cathy: Kate Hardie
Jeannie: Zoe Nathenson
May: Sammi Davis
Terry: Rod Bedall
Dudley: Joe Brown
George’s Wife: Pauline Melville
Raschid: Hossein Karimbeik