Grace of Monaco: Movie Review
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Paz Vega, Milo Ventimiglia, Frank Langella
Director: Olivier Dahan
It begins with the words: "This is a fictional accountant inspired by real events" and ends with Nicole Kidman smiling enigmatically as Grace Kelly - everything else in between is somewhat of a muddled blur.
Roundly derided at the Cannes Film festival this year, Grace of Monaco is the story of one moment in Grace Kelly's life, where her personal choices and professional standing clashed, causing a crisis of identity and marriage - as well as threatening the future of Monaco.
When Hitchcock comes to Grace to offer her a role in Marnie, she's torn between taking the part and leaving her unhappy life behind in Monaco and the constitutional crisis facing the powers that be during a stand off between Prince Rainier III (A spiv-like Tim Roth) and French president Charles de Gaulle.
As the pressure ramps up on both sides, Grace finds herself in an interminable position.
In among the dazzling diamonds on show in Grace of Monaco, there is only wood on show from the humans.
To say Grace of Monaco is poorly acted is more of a reflection on a script that lacks anything, and delivery from most of its principal cast that would be scorned if it were an amateur performance. For the majority of the film, it feels like the actors are merely intoning their lines rather than breathing any form of life into them as the kitchen sink melodrama ramps up.
In amongst all of this is Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, for whom the camera inexplicably delivers soft focus every time it's on her. Dahan chooses to spend a lot of time in sharp close up of Kidman's eyes as Grace, a directorial flourish that begins to grate after its first few overuses. While Kidman tries her best with a script that's bereft of life, she's reduced to a series of poses and pouting moments that make Kelly look like a child stinging from criticism. The worst scene sees Kelly being trained by Derek Jacobi's Count with a series of cards that have emotions like "Regret" on them - it's a shame none of them had "Acting" written on them.
Inevitably, comparisons will be made with last year's Diana biopic, given that similar themes are explored - a contretemps of a loveless marriage and expectation of duty swirl around both of these women. Except Grace of Monaco should at least have some sparkle - and while the costumes bring the bling, the lifeless dull script and actors unfortunately under the direction of Dahan do not. None of them convince in their respective roles and feel so aloof and removed from proceedings, you even wonder why anyone of them signed up in the first place.
Regally bad, Grace of Monaco for once lives upto the hype that's surrounded it following its debut at Cannes. It's just a shame that the hype stinks to high heaven in this lump of coal, which for all the efforts of those involved, cannot be polished to anything near the standard of a diamond.