Review: Grace of Monaco (2014, Olivier Dahan)

Grace-of-M2_2910662bRATING: 5/10

Director: Olivier Dahan
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Paz Vega, Milo Ventimiglia, Derek Jacobi
Screenplay: Arash Amel

The beautiful costumes and production design was unfortunately not enough for the film to save its self. When we see Nicole Kidman come onto the screen, we want to feel the love for the film. Who doesn’t love a brilliant actress portraying one of the very best film legends of the heyday of Hollywood? I tried to keep an enthusiastic mind, especially in the start of the film, where we see Kidman appear in a yacht party wearing a golden gown, ala “To Catch a Thief” (1955), but as soon as she uttered Arash Amel’s terrible dialogue the rest went downhill.

Kidman plays Princess Grace of Monaco, a few years after she has left Hollywood to marry Prince Rainier. We take a look at Grace as mother, wife and political pawn in the royal walls of her palace. As the feud between France and Monaco begin to heat up even more, Princess Grace becomes unsatisfied and begins to long for her career in the movies again (this is sparked when the ultimate caricature of Alfred Hitchcock offers her the lead role in “Marnie”). But as her mind begins to explore the possibility of coming back to the silver screen, the country’s problems get in the way and her marriage begins to spiral downwards.

The film goes on with politics that seem very interesting on the layer, but lacks to keep you up and truly interested because of a very horrible screenplay by Arash Amel. The direction of Olivier Dahan does not help it at all. The lines readings that his ensemble gives (note, his ensemble is a crop of very talented actors) often come out as flat or completely cringeworthy. This is why I can’t blame any of the actors for the job they did, because with a better screenplay and definitely better direction then this mess could’ve been much, much better.

A lot of the hate towards the film goes toward’s Miss Kidman’s performance as Grace Kelly. But if there’s one thing I can say about the film that’s good (apart from the terrific costumes and sets) is that Kidman really tries her best. Yes, some of her choices are very questionable but the performances are just half of what a film consists of – there is editing and direction to hit the right moments and make the wrong parts right. Can’t we take into consideration Dahan’s completely weird choice to zoom into Kidman’s eyes and lips when she is in an intimate scene? Also, can’t we consider that awkward fall and cry she makes as a directorial decision as they chose to show that scene in a full shot at Langhella’s bedroom? Kidman tries her best to what she is given, and to be honest, she has some pretty tender moments in the film. Forget the fact that she looks nothing like Princess Grace, but her monologues and her regal presence was really the only reasons that kept me from walking out of the film.

Overall, the film was mediocre at its very worst. The horrible screenplay gives so many opportunities for cringeworthy one liners. The editing was weird. The score was extremely distracting, playing up melodrama in the wrong times. And the cinematography made it look cheaper then it’s really supposed to be. But none of the actors can be blamed for their one-note and very questionable performances. But then again, Dahan did direct Marion to gold in “La Vie En Rose”. But if you think about it, that movie wasn’t very good either.

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