Review: Grace of Monaco

The knives are well and truly out for director Olivier Dahan’s dubiously fictional study of Princess Grace, but is it really that bad? Or is it merely too dull to be camp and too lame to be unintentionally funny, and does everyone loathe Nicole Kidman with too scorching a passion?

The knives are well and truly out for director Olivier Dahan’s dubiously fictional study of Princess Grace, but is it really that bad? Or is it merely too dull to be camp and too lame to be unintentionally funny, and does everyone loathe Nicole Kidman with too scorching a passion?

Opening with real black and white footage of the 1956 royal wedding of Prince Rainier III and movie star Grace Kelly, a voiceover intones how they’re going to live happily ever after. We pick up in 1961 when they aren’t. Grace (Kidman, who, of course, doesn’t look like the real thing) is troubled by her lack of real power to do anything humanitarian, Rainier (Tim Roth) is still being mocked for marrying the daughter of a “Philadelphian bricklayer”, and there’s a sabre-rattling dispute happening between him and Charles de Gaulle (André Penvern hamming away). Alfred Hitchcock (played with agreeable silliness by Roger Ashton-Griffiths) turns up to offer his favourite star and old pal Kelly a role in his dream project Marnie. Kelly secretly considers a return to Hollywood, all sorts of over-the-top arguments and skullduggery commence, with big, teary close-ups of Kidman’s eyes every five minutes to make sure we understand that it’s all very, very serious. She turns to confidante Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella, seemingly exhausted) for long and dreary conversations about what she should do, how to treat the cranky ‘Ray’, whether the region is soon to be invaded by France, and so on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Badly hurt, perhaps, by director Oliver Dahan’s weakness with English (his greatest claim to fame so far is the Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose), this has some seriously ripe playing, especially by Derek Jacobi in a wildly camp portrayal of Count Fernando D’Aillieres, who turns up to teach Grace proper French and queenly bearing. Yet surely the biggest problem is the fictionalisation of it all (which is mentioned right at the start in an opening credit/apology), which leaves you wondering if anything here actually happened like this, if at all, and why Dahan, Kidman and co bothered with such right royal nonsense. **1/2  

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