Grace of Monaco
Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in this featherweight not-quite-a-biopic
There’s been much written already about Grace of Monaco, and director Olivier Dahan’s clashes with US movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a man notorious for getting his own way in the cutting room. Quite whose version we’re seeing here is hard to say, but watching this intermittently interesting tale of actress Grace Kelly, you suspect it’s more Harvey than it is the French director who brought us the Edith Piaf biopic La Vie En Rose.
Nicole Kidman is a fine choice to play Grace; few other actresses embody that old-fashioned Hollywood glamour as she does. But the problem is, this isn’t a Kelly biopic. The film begins with her gracefully walking off set (in an elegant tracking shot) and into another life: marriage to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (a tache-wearing Tim Roth). Her first visitor is Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton Griffiths), trying to convince her to take the lead in Marnie, much to Rainier’s quiet displeasure.
Largely, the film deals with Rainier’s clashes with French president Charles de Gaulle, who wishes to tax Monaco and reclaim the principality, with Grace’s potential return to Hollywood seen as poor timing as this diplomatic crisis looms. A political drama, a portrait of a marriage, a Hollywood tale... Grace of Monaco doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It doesn’t help that some of the supporting characters are terribly one-note: Parker Posey’s frosty-faced social climber; Derek Jacobi’s flamboyant Count.
Shot with soft-focus lenses, the recreation of the era is credible, but Dahan seems unable to summon the grit that he brought to his Piaf film. Instead, he seems to believe shoving the camera close-up into Kidman’s face – particularly in the film’s protracted middle sequence, where she questions her marriage – constitutes emotional depth. Ultimately, despite the gravity of the situation, Grace of Monaco feels rather flyweight.
General release from Fri 6 June.