Mona Lisa (1986 film)

Mona Lisa is a 1986 British neo-noir[2] crime drama film about an ex-convict who becomes entangled in the dangerous life of a high-class call girl. The film was written by Neil Jordan and David Leland, and directed by Jordan. It was produced by HandMade Films and stars Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, and Michael Caine.

Mona Lisa
original film poster
Directed byNeil Jordan
Produced byStephen Woolley
Written byNeil Jordan
David Leland
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyRoger Pratt
Edited byLesley Walker
Distributed byIsland Pictures
Release date
  • 13 June 1986 (1986-06-13)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£2 million[1]

The film was nominated for multiple awards, and Bob Hoskins was nominated for several awards for his performance (including the Academy Award for Best Actor), winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.


George, a low-level working-class gangster recently released from prison, is given a job in London by his former boss, Denny Mortwell, as the driver and bodyguard for a high-priced prostitute named Simone. Mortwell also wants George to gather information on one of Simone's wealthy customers for blackmail purposes. Simone, who has worked hard to develop high-class manners and an elite clientele, initially dislikes the uncouth and outspoken George, and he regards her as putting on airs. But as George and Simone find out more about each other, they form a friendship, and George begins to fall in love with her. George agrees to risk his own life to help Simone find her teenage friend Cathy, who has disappeared, and whom Simone fears is being abused by her violent former pimp, Anderson.

George increasingly finds himself torn between his feelings for Simone, his obligations to his boss Mortwell, and his relationship with his teenage daughter Jeannie, a sweet normal girl who has matured while he was in prison and wants to have her father in her life.

After Anderson attacks George, Simone flees to Brighton. George finally finds Cathy and takes her to Brighton to reunite her with Simone, where he lends Simone his gun. He discovers that Simone and Cathy are lovers, and that Simone doesn't care about him and only used him to find Cathy. Mortwell and Anderson then arrive to take back control of Simone and Cathy, and an enraged Simone shoots them both dead and then threatens to shoot George. He punches her, takes the gun and leaves - upset at her ingratitude. Freed of his underworld obligations, George returns to a more normal life, working in his friend's garage and spending time with Jeannie.



The film received positive critical reaction when released in 1986. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote of the two main characters "The relationship of their characters in the film is interesting, because both people, for personal reasons, have developed a style that doesn't reveal very much."[3] However, Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times, dismissed the film as "classy kitsch."[4] Halliwell's Film Guide argued "only this actor could make a hit of this unsavoury yarn, with its highlights of sex and violence. But he did."[5]

Bob Hoskins was praised for his performance and was awarded the Golden Globe Award, BAFTA Award, Prix d'interprétation masculine at the Cannes Film Festival, and other awards. Despite this heavy acclaim, he lost the Academy Award for Best Actor to Paul Newman in The Color of Money.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Recipient
1986Academy Award for Best ActorNominatedBob Hoskins
1986BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading RoleWonBob Hoskins
1986BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading RoleNominatedCathy Tyson
1986Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture DramaWonBob Hoskins
1986Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion PictureNominatedCathy Tyson
1986Cannes Film Festival Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986London Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
Tied with William HurtKiss of the Spider Woman
1986Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting ActressWonCathy Tyson
1986National Society of Film Critics Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins
1986Valladolid International Film Festival for Best ActorWonBob Hoskins


  1. Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984–2000, Orion Books, 2005 p. 54
  2. Philip French (26 July 2015). "The Long Good Friday/Mona Lisa review – captivating visions of London's underworld". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  3. Ebert, Roger (2 July 1986) "Review: Mona Lisa" Chicago Sun-Times (Retrieved: 12 March 2010)
  4. Canby, Vincent (13 July 1986) "Movie Review: Mona Lisa (1986)". The New York Times (Retrieved: 12 March 2010)
  5. Halliwell's Film Guide, 13th edition. ISBN 978-0-00-638868-5.
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