MONA LISA AND THE BLOOD MOON – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour delivers a tasty walk on the wild side with her fourth feature, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. The film opens in a dark boggy terrain with the sounds of croaking frogs and other creatures as the song made famous by Nat King Cole is heard in the background.

We then come across an image of a young Korean woman, Mona Lisa Lee (Jeon Jong-seo), who has been locked up in a facility since she was a child. However, she possesses the ability of psychokinesis, the ability to move objects by mental effort alone. When a sadistic worker tries to hand-cuff her, she then causes the woman to stab herself. Mona Lisa then strips away her strait jacket and runs away.

She ends up in New Orleans alone, but soon meets up with tough-as-nails stripper Bonnie Belle (Kate Hudson) who cashes in on Mona Lisa’s ability to control men’s minds, ultimately causing them to drain all their cash savings from ATM machines and hand it over to them. However, a cop (Craig Robinson) knows about their dirty deeds. He stalks the women while Mona Lisa causes him to shoot himself in his knee while they get away and eventually hide out at Bonnie’s home.

Amirpour provides humorous details along the way, as Mona Lisa acquires a hankering for Cheeto-like snacks. She also hooks up with a guy called Fuzz (Ed Skrein), who appreciates her and even cuts her hair. Mona Lisa also finds an ally in Bonnie’s 11-year-old son Charlie (Evan Whitten) as they have similar taste in music. Alas, the plot has some flimsy moments. But by the end, our heroine doesn’t just strive. She survives.

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.