Olivier Dahan’s latest work, set in the early 60s, is a fictionalized account of Grace Kelly’s early years as Princess of Monaco; Grace (Nicole Kidman) is struggling to find her place and yearns to go back to Hollywood.
Following her fairy-tale wedding, things are not as good as she had hoped. Her husband Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), preoccupied with a threatening dispute with France’s Charles de Gaulle over tax laws, pays little attention to her and tensions at court mean Grace doesn’t know who to trust. Her husband’s circle of friends and the aristocracy in general do not accept her, as she’s nothing but the daughter of a brick builder from Philadelphia.
So, when Alfred Hitchcock offers her $1 million to star in his new movie, Marnie, she simply can’t resist and accepts his offer. But Grace’s biggest role needs to be performed in her new homeland, and will see the Princess embarking on a journey that will change the course of history.
Starring Frank Langella, Paz Vega, Parkey Posey, Derek Jacobi, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Milo Ventimiglia, Grace of Monaco is not as bad as they say. In fact, it is a rather enjoyable and entertaining take on her life.
A parade of spectacular costumes and Nicole Kidman’s close-ups dominate the screen, her performance as Grace is credible and touching. And if you don’t know that part of the world, be prepared to be let into a visually stunning setting, made of breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the rich and romantic Riviera of Monaco.
Admittedly, the film is partly let down by some flat dialogue and a never-ending and excessively sugary, stereotypically Hollywoodesque speech, when Grace introduces the 1962 Red Cross Ball. And the real House of Rainier’s royals have dismissed the film as “historically inaccurate and needlessly glamorized”.
However, Grace of Monaco is not meant to be a biopic: “I am not a journalist or historian. I am an artist – explains director Olivier Dahan – I would find it boring to have to depict facts only focusing on a character’s story. As a filmmaker, I was interested in telling how a torn woman finds it impossible, or at least very hard, to find the right balance between her life as a wife, a mother, a woman and her career. In my opinion, Grace of Monaco reflects these contradictions.”
Give Grace of Monaco a chance. Forget the idea you have of the legendary Grace Kelly and give Dahan’s portrayal a go. You might actually like it.
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