Grace of Monaco Screen 12 articles

Grace of Monaco

2014

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  • The film's greatest failing is in the way it makes Grace come across as a braying, starry-eyed nag who'd rather bat her eyelids as a wife and mother than retain some semblance of independence as one of the world's most celebrated movie actors... Worse than a film that pedals propaganda of any stripe is one that does so without realising it. And even worse, one that does so and hopes its audience will be too dazzled by the plunging necklines and precipitous piles of Cartier swag to notice.

  • It's been a while since we saw any sort of real performance from Kidman, whose features seem to have been embalmed in an eerily immobile L'Oréal-ad placidity. Kidman's Grace is a combination of debutante breathiness and a wide-eyed ingenue gaze, as if she's constantly walking in on a palace orgy just out of shot. It doesn't help that the camera has a bizarre penchant for shooting her face in extreme close-up, like a space probe searching for signs of life on a desolate planet.

  • The acting is so heightened, and the script so thoroughly awful, that Dahan’s idea – his big and seemingly only one – can’t begin to stick. As the film ends, there’s just enough time for another couple of cue-cards from Jacobi (‘sincerity’, ‘regret’), followed by an ominous intertitle, printed in solemn white-on-black. “Grace Kelly never acted again,” it reads. As for this lot, we’ll see.

  • It’s a deeply conservative film, of course, showing how Grace finally finds her true place in history by embracing her royal role (she is schooled in princessery by a protocol expert played by Derek Jacobi), finally saving the Principality with a rousing gala speech about the power of love. Here’s a biopic without grit, without drama, without real political curiosity – and without any real grace, either.

  • Amel’s script is agonizingly airless and contrived, especially when it tries to shoehorn in a conspiratorial subplot involving Rainier’s sister Princess Antoinette and a possibly duplicitous lady-in-waiting... As in “La Vie en rose,” Dahan keeps things very busy on the visual front, even making sure to have literal fireworks erupting in the background of one marital argument, when one would have thought the emotional fireworks would have sufficed.

  • The tragedy of Grace of Monaco lies purely in Dahan’s direction: He just doesn’t know what to do with actors. That was also true of his 2007 Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose;Marion Cotillard won her Oscar in spite of Dahan’s direction, not because of it... His camera flutters around her like an anxious footman, so eager to serve [Kidman] that he practically stomps all over her.

  • Grace of Monaco is a very uneven film, since all the efforts to achieve a biopic that reveres the memory of this iconic actress turn into a form of profanation, not to the memory, or to the authorized biography of this princess, since it’s not its intention, but because the mise en scene tries too hard in those blue pastels which try to copy what’s behind dreams, in somewhat laughable dialogues from time to time...

  • Mostly, Kidman just seems lost, and Grace rarely demonstrates any awareness that its ostensible happy ending—Kelly renounces both acting and autonomy to become the ideal housewife, while saving Monaco for tax dodgers—borders on appalling.

  • Grace of Monaco is monarchy kitsch. You couldn’t help but think, “All that fanfare for this?” It’s almost customary for the opening-night film to speak only to the festival’s need for a splash — and almost nothing else showing this week seems like what you’d call “splashy.” Plus, a movie about a Riviera principality and its fight to get France off of its throat, made by a Frenchman, is practically farm-to-table. Nonetheless, it’s lousy.

  • While not as campy as the material might suggest, it's a mixed bag of thinly conceived theatrics. Kelly's relationship with Hitchcock has the half-baked air of a Lifetime movie. Arash Amel's script hums along in professional strategy sessions between Rainier and his colleagues, but is so enamored of its heroine that it goes to laughable extremes to delineate her heroic resolve.

  • Dahan’s camera looks longingly at Kidman in long shot as if searching her body to understand what made Kelly’s filmic performances so iconic, eventually landing on her eyes and lips and focusing intently on them in extreme close-ups that run through a volume of emotions. It’s sadly the single interesting visual cue by the director of La Vie en Rose, who otherwise shoots the luscious locales in a rather disinterested fashion.

  • Grace of Monaco is nothing if not emotional. The screen is often flooded with primary colours, and while this never announces itself as an anti-realist effect, the lighting is carefully cued to fluctuations in Grace Kelly’s emotional state. Though there is an echo here of such noted melodramatists as Sirk and Minnelli, Dahan’s mise en scène more obviously evokes Max Ophuls in its expressive economy.

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