Grace Of Monaco


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"The film never really engages either the heart or the intellect."

There was a danger that all the brouhaha surrounding the 67th Cannes Film Festival’s opening choice would overshadow the film itself. This has proved to be the case.

The premise must have seemed promising at the outset: a fairy tale princess in the guise of Hollywood star Grace Kelly who eventually gives up her career for love and marriage to Prince Rainier. Add in the intrigues of the Grimaldi family, the Monegasques' sumptuous lifestyle on the rocky tax haven, and a political crisis with France at the time of the war with Algeria, and there should have been the makings of high drama.

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French director Olivier Dahan has proved himself previously on such lauded projects as La Vie En Rose, about Edith Piaf, but he seems to have been defeated by this particular task.

Despite all the trappings of exquisite costumes, stunning period locations (early Sixties) and a litany of colourful characters including Alfred Hitchcock, Maria Callas and Onassis, the narrative refuses to soar and fizzles along like a damp squib.

Nicole Kidman, to be fair, has the grace and poise to carry off at least some of the film’s set-pieces with, in particular, a stirring speech about humanitarian values and truth and justice but the conflicts within the marriage barely receive attention. Tim Roth as a debonair and chain-smoking royal spouse gives a low-key portrayal that attracts some sympathy.

Dahan opens the film with a quote from Grace Kelly: “The idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale.” You might have expected that this would have provided a springboard for defusing the myths about the partnership. The couple really only began to get know each other as the marriage progressed. Instead Dahan appears content to remain in front of the veneer rather than digging behind the surface.

With a clunky script by writer-producer Arash Amel and a score by Christopher Gunning that serves to over-emphasise the sentimentality, the film never really engages either the heart or the intellect.

The reaction after today’s media screening indicated a lukewarm response with muted applause, some whistles and a few boos. It is not terrible enough to be enjoyably bad but it certainly doesn’t make the grade and can be bracketed with other Cannes opening disappointments such as The Da Vinci Code.

And it doesn’t really merit the boycott of Grace’s adult children at tonight’s red carpet premiere, or the intervention of American distributor Harvey Weinstein who had wanted it recut.

Reviewed on: 14 May 2014
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The story of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly's crisis of marriage and identity during a political dispute between Monaco's Prince Rainier III and France's Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco.
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Read more Grace Of Monaco reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray **1/2

Director: Olivier Dahan

Writer: Arash Amel

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, André Penvern, Parker Posey, Paz Vega, Frank Langella, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Derek Jacobi

Year: 2014

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: France, USA, Belgium, Italy


Cannes 2014

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