Grace of Monaco stars Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman as Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, who left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco in the 1950s. Kidman is a fine choice to play Grace; few other actresses embody that old-fashioned Hollywood glamor like she does. But it’s a performance so stiff and plastic, it belongs at Madame Tussauds. To be fair, the film itself isn’t much better, focusing on an incident in Monaco’s history that few are likely to be interested in.
Beset by criticism from Monaco’s royal family that the story has little truth to it, the movie – co-produced by India’s own Uday Chopra and Yash Raj Films – opened the Cannes Film Festival in May to mostly scathing reviews. Set six years after her fairytale marriage, the film catches Grace as she yearns to act again, for Alfred Hitchcock in his film Marnie. Her potential return to Hollywood, however, is seen as poor timing what with a diplomatic crisis looming. Her husband, the Prince (Tim Roth), after all is busy fighting off French efforts to tax Monaco and reclaim the principality.
Shot elegantly with soft-focus lenses, the film looks gorgeous and nicely recreates the era. But director Oliver Dahaan doesn’t know what story he wants to tell – political drama, portrait of a troubled marriage, or a Grace Kelly biopic. In the end, he does very little justice to any genre, the film suffering particularly on account of its stilted dialogue and one-note characters. I lost count of how many times someone tells Grace that she’s playing the greatest role of her life.
Naturally you’re reminded of the equally awful Naomi Watts starrer Diana, in which the fellow Australian actress played another much-loved princess. But while that film was so bad you couldn’t help laughing at its silliness, this one is just a plodding bore. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Grace of Monaco. If you’re having trouble sleeping lately, this is just the cure you needed!