Next on Netflix: Meaning of womanhood
Which would you rather have — a spouse or a career? That’s the question that “Mona Lisa Smile” poses. The girls at Wellesley College in 1953 are aiming for the former, and new professor Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) thinks that they’re limiting themselves.
When she arrives to teach art history, she hopes to introduce the young women to a world beyond their girlish dreams of husbands and babies. But she doesn’t realize that her students are dealing with real problems as they transition into adulthood.
One student, Joan, has what it takes to get accepted to Yale’s law school – but the harder Katherine pushes her toward a law career, the more uncertain Joan becomes. Another, Betty, despises how liberal Katherine is, and hopes to force her out of the school.
In the end, Katherine must accept that what she thinks will make her students happy isn’t necessarily right for them. In exchange, the girls begin to expand their horizons, and think about art – and life – in way that their textbooks never taught them.
“Mona Lisa Smile” is ultimately about what it means to be a woman. Is she a wife? A breadwinner? A mother?
Despite the stubbornness of Katherine and her students, it becomes apparent that there are a number of different ways the future can go, and they’re all equally valid.
It’s OK to walk away from a situation you’re not comfortable with, and it’s okay to choose a different future if the one you originally imagined didn’t turn out the way you hoped.