Director: Olivier Dahan
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella
Some stories are begging to be told, while others couldn’t buy an audience. Simultaneously, some movies need to be seen, while others have absolutely nothing to offer. Grace of Monaco falls into the latter category two times over. It’s rare that you see a film with this kind of star power and this solid of a true life plot fall so very short of its goal, becoming something so unnecessary that its mere presence is an insult to all. Harsh perhaps, but true nevertheless. Countless stories go untold, countless movies go unseen, but for a professional team to take on a project like this and to watch it fail so completely is something we don’t see every day. Don’t expect Olivier Dahan (director of the La Vie en Rose) to rebound from this disaster quickly, while on the flip side, don’t expect Nicole Kidman to be this awful ever again.
If fairy tales do indeed exist, consider the life of Grace Kelly to be the modern-day version. An award-winning actress, this Philadelphia girl rose to super-celebrity status with roles in huge American films: High Noon, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window. She even won an Oscar in 1954 for The Country Girl, cementing her place in Hollywood history as one of the silver screen’s most beloved leading ladies. But Grace would give it all up, the burgeoning career, the glamour of the red carpet, the roles of a lifetime, for what at the time seemed such a small thing; love. Grace married the Prince of Monaco, Rainier Grimaldi, and her life would never be the same.
Monaco, the second smallest nation in the world, was like a fairy tale kingdom when Grace took the throne as Princess, and her life seemed a continuation of the perfection of her past. But all was not well in Monaco, nor with her new husband, a man under the intense pressure of ruling. After having three children, Grace longed for a return to acting, something her Prince forbade. Also, the country itself was on the brink of collapse financially & politically, with France threatening to take the land by force. Monaco, having no way to fight back and relying on its beauty to survive, would become an apt metaphor of Grace Kelly herself, a fragile & angelic woman whose only hope was the very thing she gave up her old life for; love.
It shocks me that someone saw this story as a necessity to share. The filmmakers read about Grace Kelly and decided to reenact a portion of her life story. And that portion happened to be the time in which she thought about going back to acting but didn’t, thought about divorcing her husband but didn’t, and the time Monaco was about to absorbed by France but wasn’t. What exactly was supposed to be interesting about this film? What was the purpose behind making it in the first place? Some stories aren’t interesting enough to be told, some movies aren’t captivating enough to watch, and Grace of Monaco is a fine (or poor) example of both. Perhaps someone just wanted to parade Nicole Kidman around in classic outfits because the colors would pop given today’s high definition media. Well, good job, that much worked.
But what didn’t was the actress herself, once you got past her fancy outfits. Kidman’s botox-infused face was frozen for most of the film, giving us nothing, revealing nothing, and pushing us away rather than drawing us in close. She was about as unlikable a heroine as you are likely to see; breathy, angsty, unsure, a teenager trapped in woman’s boy with Kidman’s aged face attached atop. She has been so much better, even as recently as this year, but failed here to do anything in a movie that was set up to fail. Tim Roth as Rainier was fine if uninspired, but Parker Posey, who I love, was downright dreadful in a small role, completely destroying every scene which she found herself in. Not that she could have made many much better, they were all propped up on the wobbly stilts of a very uninteresting tale of “love” and “freedom”. A movie that should appeal to no one, only visually does it make any positive impression.
Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the visuals might just be the best part. The film was shot using Arricam cameras with Panavision G-Series and Angenieux Optimo Lenses. The video quality is high, with beautiful color and crisp focus, highlighting the majesty of the country & the magnificence of Grace’s wardrobe. The picture was lovely, the historic mood well-crafted, but that’s where the positives of the film end.
Audio – The DVD was done in English Dolby Digital 5.1 with some French subtitles during the film. English Subtitles for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired and Spanish Subtitles are available in the menu. The audio quality of the film was fine, with no noticeable flaws, but also nothing to remember. The music was equally forgettable, with the exception of one pleasant operatic performance.
Extras – There are no special features on this disc.
Rent It. Though not a painful film to watch by any means, there are, at the same time, not many reason to seek it out. The costumes are impressive, the scenery nice, the story interesting to those already fans of Grace Kelly. But the movie itself is a failure to capture our attention. It’s a pointless retelling of a boring subject, not one that will inspire anyone to great fascination, unless you perhaps lived in Monaco in the 60s. The video is very nice, the audio unmemorable, and there are no extras on the DVD. Rent only if you’re curious despite my review, but don’t expect much. This film didn’t ask to be created, it was forced, and the result was both unnecessary & poor.
☆ ☆ – Content
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ – Extras
☆ – Replay