Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) seems to have settled into her new life as Princess of Monaco, but when Alfred Hitchcock comes knocking at the palace doors with a new script, Grace has to decide where her loyalties lie. As she struggles with her choice, her husband Prince Rainier (Tim Roth) struggles with the French government.
By now, it is fairly likely that you have heard that Grace of Monaco is terrible, and let’s be frank, it’s not a good film, but it is not quite as embarrassingly bad as you have heard. Screening it at Cannes was certainly the wrong move for the film; not only are the eyes of the world on the prestigious festival, but the geographical proximity of the screening to Monaco definitely did not help matters.
Nicole Kidman is as breathy, breathless and vapid as you have heard. There was a time when she was an actress with range and strength, but all of this seems to have fallen by the wayside in recent years, leaving her version of the iconic Grace Kelly bland and weak. Tim Roth does not fare much better as the constantly smoking Prince Rainier and Parker Posey is completely underused as Madge Tivey-Faucon, the head of the palace staff. Derek Jacobi, Frank Langhella and Roger Ashton-Griffiths turn up in the film as the three men who Grace turns to for help and advice.
There is little doubt that Grace Kelly led a fascinating life, but the decision to focus on this particular period in her life is perplexing to say the least. Screenwriter Arash Amel not only makes some questionable choices in terms of dialogue and locations, but the decision to have Grace go through a My Fair Lady type process to be found fit to be Princess is derivative and dull. In fact, dull is the best word to describe the entire screenplay.
As director, Olivier Dahan seems intent on making the film pretty but uninteresting Kidman’s breathy delivery soon begins to grate, and there are some scenes that are so painfully embarrassing to watch it is unclear how they ended up in the finished film. Monaco looks good though, and Kidman gets to wear some pretty dresses.
Grace of Monaco is rather akin to a decorative towel; pretty to look at but utterly useless. Kidman relies on her ticks and quirks to convey character, and fails, and the rest of the cast are either badly miscast or horribly underused. That said, the film is rather pretty to look at, so it’s not all bad… Just most of it.