Mona Lisa Smile
Replace the young boys of "Dead Poets Society" with women and change the setting to Wellesley College circa 1953, and you have a movie that stops just short of having free-spirited Berkeley grad Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) tattoo "Carpe Diem" on her forehead and leap around like an epileptic chimp as she teaches art class.
Predictably, at first her new charges couldn't be more lackluster if they had wind-up keys stuck in their cashmere-clad backs. It seems their entire goal in life is to get married and raise lackluster children of their own. As Wellesley teaches it, this is what women are good for. Along comes Ms. Watson to show them otherwise. Betty (Kirsten Dunst), the resident bitch, does all she can to resist the new information. Joan (Julia Stiles) appears on the cusp of independence. Constance (Ginnifer Goodwin) works up the nerve to act on her feelings, while Giselle (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the black sheep of the group, sluts around even more.
One can rest assured that faculty, staff and parents alike are quick to whip out lorgnettes and gasp, "Well, I never!" at Katherine's radical ideas. Shockingly, this makes Katherine even more determined to teach modern art and use it as a metaphor for life and learning.
You can bet your life's savings that by the end of the film, everyone who's been touched by Ms. Watson's shining light has become a better person. In fact, there's so much self-righteous beaming at the end, you'd swear everyone's been using irradiated skin cream.
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