Grace of Monaco
Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Derek Jacobi, André Penvern
Release Date: 5 June, 2014
Critics verdict: 1 Star. Quite frankly, this is a flop.
Director Olivier Dahan has been at pains to point out that his account of the 1962 French blockade of Monaco – which Princess Grace helped bring to a close – is neither a biopic nor a dramatically accurate depiction of events. Rather, Grace of Monaco is designed to portray a love story that, so we are told, grew out of adversity and crisis, to blossom and flourish in the 20 years that followed.
Much of Dahan’s film, scripted by Arash Amel, plays absurdly loose with fact, with a quintessentially European story that begs to be explored in greater depth. The film’s star, Nicole Kidman, bears a passing resemblance to the Oscar-winning actress turned princess – and digs deep, in a largely thankless role – but her efforts are wasted with a script that, as with last year’s Diana, feels more in line with a cheap telemovie (odd, given it was on Hollywood’s Black List).
Tim Roth, looking nothing like Prince Rainier III, does what he can in support of Kidman, while sporting an understandably dejected frown and chain-smoking throughout (a feat matched by her endless tears of despair). Among the heavyweights joining in, as unintended court jesters: Frank Langella (as the trusty priest, Father Francis Tucker), Parker Posey (as lady-in-waiting, Madge Tivey-Faucon), Derek Jacobi (as a parrot-loving, elocution-coaching camp count), Roger Ashton-Griffiths (offering a pantomime approximation of director Alfred Hitchcock) and, perhaps most laughably of all, André Penvern (bravely attempting to impersonate Charles de Gaulle).
The essence of the bond between Rainier and Kelly – who met in Cannes in 1955, hence it opening this year’s Cannes Film Festival – emerges relatively unscathed, even if the Grimaldi family have understanably dismissed its theatrics. However, given the gossip that plagued the pair later in life, prior to the princess’s tragic death in 1982, its sugar-sweet finale rings both hollow and irresponsible. One can only wonder what Harvey Weinstein could possibly do to save it.”
The Guardian says: “The resulting film about this fantastically boring crisis is like a 104-minute Chanel ad, only without the subtlety and depth. Princess Grace herself is played by Nicole Kidman, wafting around the Palace with dewy-eyed features and slightly parted lips which make her look like a grown-up Bambi after a couple of cocktails, suddenly remembering his mother’s violent death in the forest.”
Stephen A Russell for thelowndownunder says: “If you thought Naomi Watts as Princess Diana was a car crash, this year’s Cannes opener Grace of Monaco, with Kidman as the titular princess, is even more disastrous. It’s frankly stunning that Olivier Dahan, who delivered 2007’s La Vie En Rose, a majestic biopic of Edith Piaf’s life, could get things so utterly wrong here. He’s not aided by a dreadful screenplay from Aerash Amel (Erased), full of juddering clunkers and wafer-thin characterisation.”