Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey and Paz Vega
Running Time: 103 minutes
Release Date: June 6th
Grace of Monaco is a Grace Kelly biopic that struggles to overcome a dull script, a bored cast and its tendency to descend into melodrama.
Nicole Kidman stars as Kelly and the film focuses on the years following the Hollywood star’s marriage to Prince Rainier III. It’s set against the backdrop of Charles De Gaulle’s blockade of Monaco in the 1960s but even the threat of a French invasion fails to give it the gravitas that it craves.
We know that Grace is unhappy with her new life as the director insists on showing us lingering close-ups of a teary-eyed Kidman. If nothing else, Grace of Monaco offers the audience an unparalleled view of the actress’s nostrils.
The story begins with Alfred Hitchcock’s efforts to convince Grace to star in his new film, Marnie, and examines her crisis of identity as she is forced to choose between her old life and her new responsibilities. What follows is a heavy-handed implication that her life as a princess was the former leading lady’s most important role. Just in case anyone missed this obvious point, two major characters explicitly tell the former actress that she must learn to play the role of princess. An obligatory montage sees her transformed from an alienated wife to a sort of personification of the tiny principality. This transformation brings to mind The King’s Speech but with some worrying Stepford Wives undertones.
Nicole Kidman offers a weepy impression of the iconic star but she fails to capture the charisma that made Kelly such a powerful screen presence. In fairness, she isn’t helped by a limp script and some uninspired dialogue. Tim Roth stars as Rainier but his talents are underutilised in a role that demands little more than the ability to grow a moustache and look moody. It’s a shame that the cast of supporting characters is underdeveloped as there are some talented character actors who are reduced to playing vehicles for Grace’s personal journey.
There is a blissful lack of subtlety about the whole affair and it’s hard not to cringe or even giggle at some of the dafter moments. The film drifts into melodrama all too often and the score’s tinkling piano notes and sweeping strings just add to its twee TV movie stylings. Although it seems obsessed with pointing out that Kelly’s life as a princess was no fairytale, it is guilty of drifting into fairytale territory with its portrayal of the woman herself.
Ultimately, Grace of Monaco is a harmless piece of glossy nonsense but it does feel a bit like being swatted with a Hallmark card for 103 minutes.