Grace of Monaco opens with the lines “The following film is a fictional account inspired by real events”, and continues in this blatantly obvious manner of slapping the audience in the face with information. Directed by Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose) the film follows Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman), as she takes on “the greatest role of her life” as Princess Consort of Monaco after leaving Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier (Tim Roth) in 1956.
The film takes place in the sixties, a tumultuous time for Monaco; Parisian students are on the brink of riots, the Algerian war continues and Prince Rainier III is deep in debate with Charles de Gaulle over proposed taxes on the citizens of Monaco.
Somehow this all rests on the shoulders of Grace. Unhappy in her married life, Grace is torn between going back to Hollywood after being offered a new role by Hitchcock or becoming the Princess she is meant to be. The overdramatised script suggests that this choice will make or break Rainer’s relationship with de Gaulle, and thus Monaco’s relationship with France.
Rainier’s role is totally dumbed down, his responsibility for decision making is lost in the wondrous world of what-will-Grace-do-next and the pair seem to hardly ever discuss their issues with one another. No, it is instead Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella), the American Priest who came over to Monaco with Grace, who exists purely so that Grace’s inner monologue can be voiced aloud in a series of somewhat disturbingly extreme hand-held close-ups of Nicole Kidman’s teary face. It is in these sequences, and only these sequences, that we are really allowed some insight into the emotional world of Grace, this might be one of the best ideas in the film however it could definitely have been better executed – it is so very left of field compared to the rest of the film, it disrupts the any aspect of continuity created through production elements. Yes, it is confrontational, however it does not belong in a Hollywood film made up of sweeping panoramas and smooth tracking shots throughout the palace filled with objects and extras.
The best things about this film would have to be the multitude of beautiful locations (once you move past how disruptive the introduction of so many locations is to the flow of the film), that and the Hitchcock cameo from Roger Ashton-Griffiths, his comedic portrayal lifts the film, he could definitely have used more screen time.
To say that this film lacks subtlety would be an understatement, no detail could be lost on the spectator with dates slapped across the screen at almost every scene change. Making a film is certainly a challenge in itself but this screenplay just does not manage to pull it off. The frequent location changes, coupled with characters constantly entering and exiting the narrative and Grace’s indecision make for a choppy film with not much left going for it apart from the breathtaking seascapes of Monaco.
Grace of Monaco will screen at most cinemas across Australia from June 5.