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Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile

Cast: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Director: Mike Newell

Julia Roberts stars as a college professor in the early 1950s who rocks the boat when she encourages her young charges to think for themselves.

Katherine Watson (Roberts) travels from California to the New England campus of prestigious Wellesley College in 1953 to teach art history. She expects her students, the country's best and brightest, to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them, but soon discovers an environment steeped in conformity.

When Katherine encourages her students to think independently, she runs afoul of conservative forces including the uppercrust Betty (Kirsten Dunst).

But Watson perseveres, becoming a role model and mentor, and through her students' trials to find their own way, Katherine learns to chart a different course for herself.

Mona Lisa Smile was inspired by an article about Hillary Rodham Clinton's education at Wellesley College in the 1960s.

"By the 60s the Wellesley curriculum had already been modernized and the students took their choices for granted," says Rosenthal. "But we wondered what it would be like if we went back a generation, before the vocabulary of feminism was handed to women on a silver platter."

The screenwriters realised the curriculum 40 years ago was vastly different to that of today.

"They were doing French literature and physics in the morning and how to serve tea to your husbands boss in the afternoon," says screenwriter Lawrence Konner.

Catch Mona Lisa Smile on Saturday at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

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