Grace of Monaco (*)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by Olivier Dahan
Starring –Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth,Paz Vega,Milo Ventimiglia,Derek Jacobi and Frank Langella
(Movie House Dublin Road Preview 02/06/2014)
BOOED at Cannes, torn to pieces by critics and almost dropped by producer Harvey Weinstein – Grace of Monacohas had a bumpy ride since its première at the Cannes film festival earlier this year. But is this biopic about the late Grace Kelly really that bad? The answer is yes. In fact it’s more than bad. It’s the worst film of the year so far.
Admittedly, you can’t help but feel a little curious when a film is unanimously greeted with such vitriol and venom. You have to understand that critics don’t go out of their way to hate films. They don’t go into preview screenings with their opinion already made up nor have scathing reviews already written in their minds.
Generally, it’s quite the opposite, particularly when a film comes along that everyone else already hates. You’re hoping to be the one who finds something in it than no-one else does. Deep down, you’re hoping to be the one who “gets it”.
The problem is that Grace of Monacodoesn’t even know what “it” is to begin with. Part biopic, part historical drama, the film features a terribly wooden performance by Nicole Kidman as the Philadelphian born starlet, most famous for appearing in some of Alfred Hitchcock’s best, including Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.
But the film doesn’t bother with any of that stuff. Instead it decides to create a ridiculously pompous melodrama out of Kelly’s post-Hollywood years, which according to this plot, she spent wallowing in self-pity, trapped in a loveless marriage to the Monegasque royal, Rainier III.
She faces a dilemma. Stay in the lap of luxury as the princess of Monaco, or return to a star-studded career in Hollywood. If that wasn’t enough, her husband, played by Tim Roth with a perpetual hangover, is being badgered by a very angry Charles De Gaulle. He demands that Monaco pay their way or feel the might of a blockade by France.
It’s all smoke and no mirrors as the film makes a rather enormous, snow-covered mountain out of a relatively insignificant molehill from European history. If this film is anything to be believed, the dispute between France and Monaco seemingly brought Europe to the brink of yet another World War. What can the Prince and his tuxedo wearing, chain-smoking, dodgy-accented band of high rollers do to get them out of this pickle?
The correct answer of course is we don’t care. As this footnote in history is amplified to gargantuan proportions, it’s hard to feel sympathy for the Monegasque cause, particularly while the film’s cast prance around like they’re living in a Ferrero Rocher advert.
Unfortunately there isn’t a butler with a perfect pyramid of choccy-nut confectionery at hand to defuse the situation; otherwise this vile piece of self-righteous tripe would have been over a hell of a lot sooner.
Even when trying to justify their actions, the film does nothing but dig its own grave. How DO you raise money for schools and hospitals when your tax rate is 0% and most of the population is minted? It doesn’t take a genius to work that one out.
But this film and its characters exist inside a strange bubble where somehow taking princess lessons seems to be the best course of action to try to solve your nation’s problems. Lessons in etiquette and elocution are dished out by a rather eccentric Derek Jacobi who looks like he knows better and simply taking the piss with this role.
Unfortunately the whole scene plays out like a Rocky montage if it were directed by Disney, except there aren’t any talking creatures or catchy tunes to keep you amused. It has all the life and sole of a welly boot rather than a glass slipper.
The dialogue is bland and often too cryptic for its own good at times, spewed out in patronizing stereotypical French accents that will have you spitting sacreblue in rage. It’s like watching those strange perfume commercials at Christmas, which make absolutely no sense to anyone except the strange, creative minds behind them.
And even he doesn’t like it. Director Olivier Dahan claims that there was a better cut of the film, before Harvey Weinstein took his golden scissors to it and ruined it. But given that Grace of Monaco is stuck so far up its rear end, so demeaning, and so full of itself, I find that very hard to believe.
Review by Leigh Forgie