Well, I finally saw Grace of Monaco and…
Seriously, I am sitting here right now and I am just thinking to myself, “Oh God, do I really have to try to think up something interesting to say about this movie?” Grace of Monaco is not a good movie but, at the same time, it’s bad in the worst way possible. It’s not so bad-that-its-entertaining. Instead, it’s just a dull misfire.
In fact, probably the only really interesting thing about Grace of Monaco is that it is the first film to go from opening Cannes to premiering on Lifetime. Though it may seem impossible to believe now, there was a time in 2013 when everyone was expecting Grace of Monaco to be a major Oscar contender. It seemed like everyone was saying that Nicole Kidman was a lock for a best actress nomination and maybe more!
Then the film’s American release date was moved from November of 2013 to June of 2014. Rumor had it that the infamous Harvey Weinstein was chopping up the film and destroying the vision of director Olivier Dahan. “Bad Harvey!” we all said. (Of course, having now seen the film, I can understand why Harvey may have had some concerns…)
Okay, we told ourselves, Grace of Monaco probably won’t be a best picture contender. But surely Nicole Kidman can get a nomination. Surely the costumes and the production design will be honored…
And then the film played opening night at the Cannes Film Festival and it was greeted with less than appreciate reviews. In fact, the reaction to the film was so negative that it has since become somewhat legendary.
And so, the American premiere was canceled. The film opened in Europe, where it made little money and received scathing reviews. But it was destined to never play in an American theater. Instead, Grace of Monaco was sold to the Lifetime network.
And, after all of the drama and the waiting, I finally got to see Grace of Monaco tonight and … well, bleh.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a pretty movie. I loved looking at what everyone was wearing. I enjoyed looking at the ornate settings. Whenever Grace Kelly stopped to look out at the view from the palace, I appreciated it because it was a beautiful view. If I had hit mute and simply enjoyed the film as a look at beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and living in beautiful houses, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.
But, unfortunately, Grace of Monaco has a plot that gets in the way. The evil French, led by Charles De Gualle (played by Andre Penvern, who gives a performance that would probably be more appropriate for a James Bond film), want to take over Monaco because the citizens of Monaco don’t pay any income tax. (I was totally Team Monaco as far as this was concerned. Everyone should stop paying their taxes. If we all do it, we’ll be fine. They can’t prosecute all of us!) Only Princess Grace Kelly can stop them but first, she has to convince her headstrong husband, Prince Rainier (Tim Roth), to listen to her opinions. She has to convince her subjects that she’s more than just an opinionated American.
But Grace doesn’t just want to keep the French out of Monaco! She also wants to return to her film career. Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) wants her to star in Marnie. (Hitchcock is always filmed as being slightly out-of-focus.) Rainier doesn’t want her to return to acting. And neither does a priest played by Frank Langella…
What was Frank Langella doing in this movie? I have no idea. He was some sort of advisor. I understand that he’s based on a historical figure but honestly, the film was so boring that I can’t even bring myself to go on Wikipedia to find out who exactly he was.
But really, the main issue with Grace of Monaco is that it tells us absolutely nothing about Grace Kelly. The film doesn’t seem to know who she was or what it wants to say about her. And Nicole Kidman is a good actress and I hope that I look as good as she does when I’m 47 and after I’ve given birth to two children but seriously, she seems to be totally lost in this film. Olivier Dahan fills the film with close-ups of Kidman’s face but for what reason? Never for a minute do we believe we’re looking at the face of the star of High Noon, Rear Window, or To Catch A Thief. Instead, we’re always aware that we’re looking at Nicole Kidman and she doesn’t seem to be sure just what exactly she’s supposed to be doing. We learn nothing about Grace, Monaco, France, royalty, or movies.
And it’s a shame really. Because the story of Grace Kelly would make a great film. But Grace of Monaco doesn’t really tell you anything about her life.
It’s just boring and a film about an actress like Grace Kelly has absolutely no right to be boring.
Full marks for braving this film. I haven’t built up the confidence to do so having heard of the boos at Cannes and Mark Kermode’s mocking of it. One day maybe when I’ve run out of other movies to watch …
Once there are no other movies left in the world, Grace of Monaco will be worth the time it takes to watch it. 🙂
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