Review: Grace of Monaco

A woefully misguided project that does nothing for the reputations of anybody listed in the credits

Grace of Monaco
    
Director: Olivier Duhan
Cert: PG
Genre: Drama
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey
Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins

We could forgive Nicole Kidman for coming across like a mildly ambulatory waxwork in this already notorious hagiography if she were, at least, coming across like a mildly ambulatory waxwork of Princess Grace. This is not the case.

Ms Kidman's version of the former Grace Kelly suggests nothing so much as an enormous embalmed gecko being nudged from lectern to drawing room on ingeniously concealed casters. When Kidman opens her mouth, it becomes apparent that no attempt is being made at impersonation.

At least poor Naomi Watts had a crack at an English accent in the even more appalling Diana. Olivier Duhan, director of Le Vie en Rose, could hardly have delivered a less convincing Princess Grace if he'd cast an octogenarian Japanese man.

Still, you could argue that many directors have, by allowing actors to create their own largely imagined versions of real-life characters, generated fascinating quasi-fictional takes on significant historical events. Frank Langella (who appears here as a wittering priest) was not, after all, much like Richard Nixon in the fine Frost/Nixon.


Unfortunately, the focus of Duhan's film is an incident from Monégasque economic history no more interesting than the excise issues that informed the opening crawl on The Phantom Menace.

As you are probably not aware, in the early 1960s, Charles de Gaulle's French government attempted to impose income tax on Monaco and – if the film is to credited, anyway – only backed down when the Princess delivered a feeble speech that represented the millionaires' struggle as akin to the peasants' revolt. Weep? Not much. But the temptation to hiss proved hard to resist.

To be fair, Grace of Monaco is carried off with some technical flair. The exterior shots gesture towards contemporaneous Technicolor; the interiors are impressively gloomy. Tim Roth has great fun transforming Prince Rainier into a diverting combination of lesser Borgia and South London thug.

The film remains, however, a woefully misguided project that does nothing for the reputations of anybody listed in the credits. Let’s just try and forget it ever existed.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist