In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Neil Jordan’s murky English noir Mona Lisa.
A stylish British crime flick produced by George Harrison’s Handmade Films in 1986, Mona Lisa also features one of Bob Hoskins’ best performances. Up until this point Hoskins was most famous for his hardman turn in The Long Good Friday, but here he plays against type as George, a heart of gold ex-con, who, on being freed, gets a job as a limo driver for Michael Caine’s sleazy gangland boss.
With an abiding love for Nat King Cole and a nostalgic longing for a better more honorable time, George is given the task of driving around high class call girl Simone (Cathy Tyson). They soon strike up a friendship, which leads George to agree to find her abused young friend Kathy, leading him onto a collision course with his boss and his criminal dealings. Neil Jordan’s film (co-written with David Lealand) is a neo-noir akin to his underrated 2002 film The Good Thief. It’s got a fantastic score and wonderful performances from Hoskins and Tyson, the former losing out to Paul Newman for the Oscar nod. There are also early cameos from Robbie Coltrane and The Wire’s Clarke Peters.