Grace of Monaco


The announcement made during the opening credits sounds like an excuse: “the film that you are about to watch is a fiction based on real facts”.  With Grace of Monaco, French filmmaker Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose) delivers his own adaptation of a true story in order to create an ambitious work and this is certainly his right. The fate of Hollywood actress Grace Kelly (Rear Window) becoming a European princess has all the elements of a fairy tale and, for a brief  moment, Mr. Dahan’s film seemed promising, most particularly when he’s using Technicolor to recreate the 60’s vibe with elegance.

Unfortunately, we don’t get much time to enjoy Grace of Monaco, the movie turning quickly to melodrama. Focusing on a somewhat minor political crisis as a central dramatic ploy (French president Charles De Gaulle menacing to invade Monaco when Prince Rainier refused a French tax), the picture emphasizes Grace’s legacy as she gets involves in political matters and renounces to her career to better serve her new country.

While this script could probably have worked, its screen adaptation proves to be disastrous. Most of the blame can be attributed to Mr. Dahan who is neither able to create an even work, nor to direct his actors with confidence. The otherwise talented lead actors Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth fail at delivering convincing performances, somewhat caricaturing Grace Kelly and the Prince Rainier of Monaco. Mr. Roth seems to be constantly pausing, with a cigarette in his mouth, while Ms. Kidman has to work with some poorly written lines.

A couple sequences more particularly contribute to make Grace of Monaco so indigestible: In one scene set at a Red Cross ball, Grace delivers a corny tirade while the soundtrack tries to emphasize the emotion with violins. In another moment reminding us of – a somewhat negative version of – David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, she is seen rehearsing for a role in her bedroom, lacking much flair. As for supporting roles, from historic figures such as Alfred Hitchcock and Charles De Gaulle to minor characters including a crooked bureaucrat and a housekeeper, they also find themselves reduced to monolithic caricatures.

When it comes to the narrative, there is no shortage of twists, from treason to conspiracy, espionage and political crisis. The filmmaker’s intentions are reflected on the screen, just like Grace is shown in a mirror in an attempt to better represent her inner dilemmas: should she embrace her role as a princess or get back to acting? Should she save her family or her soul? The truth is that we don’t care much whatever the answer might be and the only thing that is clear is that rather than creating a romantic heroine, Mr. Dahan instead turned a film legend into ridicule.

Director: Olivier Dahan – Actors: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth – Running Time: 1:43 – Year: 2014 – Country: France

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Moland Fengkov

Moland Fengkov

Based in Paris, Moland is a journalist and photographer; He is more particularly responsible for covering the Cannes film festival for Plume Noire, writing movie reviews and taking gorgeous pictures.
Moland Fengkov

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