13 June 2014 | TheSquiss
A dreary Sunday TV matinée that should be a grand biopic
Oliver Dahan's biopic of Hollywood's darling, Grace Kelly, has been pretty much thumped by critics universally. Most would have you believe Grace of Monaco is an arduous, dull swamp of a film on a par with Oliver Hirschbiegel flop, Diana.
It isn't. Not quite.
Described as a fictional story based on true events, Grace of Monaco looks at Grace Kelly's (Nicole Kidman) struggle to maintain her own identity as her marriage to Monaco's Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) bounces around the rocks while her husband's subjects reject her and his staff resent her. Add to that Charles De Gaulle's impending invasion and the principality's nosedive into economic ruin, and all was not happy in Grace's life. Allegedly.
Grace of Monaco is a long way from Dahan's 2007 biopic triumph, La Vie en Rose. It is far too long, far too dull, with questionable 'truth' and rather too much melodrama. Dahan repeatedly cuts to lingering ECUs of Kidman's eyes, vainly hoping that soft focus shots of her regal visage will imbue his film with serenity and beauty. It doesn't. It merely serves to increase the boredom and slow the pace still further.
No matter how good Kidman and Roth are, they cannot raise Grace of Monaco above the status of star Sunday afternoon matinée to the magnificent period piece it desperately wants to be. Both actors are pleasant to watch here with Grace's relationship with Frank Langella's Father Tucker a highlight that allows Kidman to scratch under the veneer of the princess. Likewise, Roth is more than adequate as the overbearing monarch who occasionally remembers to show he cares about his wife, but it lacks the truth of his sensitive and truthful performance in last year's fantastic Broken.
When Roger Ashton Griffiths waddles onto the screen as Hitchcock aiming to seduce Grace Kelly back to Hollywood, the teeth begin to rattle as memories of Toby Jones pouring out the definitive depiction of Hitch in The Girl diminish anything that Ashton Grifiths can produce. Amongst the supporting cast Robert Lindsay, surprisingly cast as Aristotle Onassis, and Derek Jacobi as Count Fernando D'Aillieres engage the eye but there is a very odd collection of accents on display for a film set in an annex of France.
The production design is eye-catching and detracts momentarily from the clunky dialogue, but it isn't sufficient compensation. Contrary to popular opinion, Grace of Monaco is not a turkey. It is merely overlong and dull. Approach with low expectations and you won't be disappointed.
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