Grace of Monaco(English) Rating: * * * Kidman, Full of GRACE! A luminous performance from Nicole Kidman lifts this movie from out of the doldrums of limited appeal brought on by it’s unambitious fictional script. It’s not a bio-pic on Grace but a fictional account that dresses up political sentiment in the hopes of giving the Star Princess a much more heroic turn. Yash Raj Entertainment’s maiden International foray is a creditable effort as Pumped-up Performances, production values and technical effort are up there with the best!
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English film Review
Kidman, Full of GRACE
Film: Grace of Monaco
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey, Milo Ventininglia, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Robert Lindsay, Paz Vega, Geraldine Somerville, Derek Jacobi
Director: Oliver Dahan
Rating: * * *
Synopsis: Just barely two years in the life of grace Kelly, most of it fictional, has been adapted in this Pierre-Ange Le Pogam and YashRaj Entertainment bankrolled picture focusing on the time where the actress-Princess helped ease a situation between France and Monaco, after being married to Royalty six years previous. Amish Amel deals the script.
Two years in a life don’t necessarily make a bio-pic and when most of it appears to be imagination more than realty then the critics are bound to be displeased. So it’s no wonder that most critics in Cannes panned the film for being just a little too loosely based on a life to be considered serious art-house viewing.
Cinema though, is mostly a fictional universe where art and reality merge to form a magical whole that gives vein to a new world. Amish Amel’s script and Oliver Dahan’s helming does just that. The story may not be considered weighty but has it’s vigorously manufactured dramatic moments that could well hold you in thrall. There is of course no doubt that this is merely a fairy tale telling of a life perceived as a fairy tale. The truth however is a different animal altogether. Princess Grace Kelly may have been the epitome of Poise and beauty but her life, post marriage, was anything but. Amish Amel, tries to bring some of it to life but when combined with some bumpy cornball transition fiction, it loses it’s raison d’etre.
“Grace” opens with a quote by Kelly herself stating that “the idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale.” The movie that follows straddles both fiction and fact with a cobbled together feel that culminates in a sort of fancy dress ball that is lavish and sparklingly impressive. In between, “Grace” offers a vision of the Philadelphia-born Oscar winner as a gauche American struggling to fit in with the manners and mores of the European aristocracy. She feels an outsider in her own sovereign state, where she arrived in 1956 after marrying the Monegasque prince Rainier III ( Tim Roth).
The film doesn’t give us an insight into their courtship. We get a few glimpses of the fairytale wedding as Grace replays the event on TV, while she grapples with all she has to forgo in order to accommodate her own advent into royalty. Dahan’s film picks up from 1961 when Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) visits the palace to offer Grace(Nicole kidman)the role of the psychologically scarred kleptomaniac in ‘Marnie.’ Grace’s already unsteady standing in Monaco gets a little more shaky as controversy erupts over her possibly decision to go back to the movies. The palace ensures that most of the intrigue stays within it’s closed doors though. After the will, won’t she first half delineated by the Hitchcock offer, the second half picks up steam with the tax crisis and threat of war.
France, after being mired in the costly Algerian War and alarmed at the number of national business pulling up stakes and relocating to tax-free Monaco, gets fighting, with French president Charles de Gaulle (Andre Penvern) delivering an ultimatum to Rainier – adopt tax measures and pay the proceeds to France or else risk punitive action. The fact that this issue is more bourgeoise than common makes it less than important for a lay viewer. From the point of view of the Princess though it was a decisive period. Grace has to give up her Hollywood dreams, seeks counsel from expat American priest Tucker(Frank Langella) and gets some Princess-like-protocol training from a count(Derek Jacobi). The Red Cross charity ball, that’s soon to follow becomes the weapon of mass diplomacy that ensures Grace’s complete acceptance as a true princess.
The flights of fancy notwithstanding, this is a gritty tale of a commoner –actress transforming herself into a woman worth her salt. Kidman at 47, is a little too old to play the Princess who would have just been touching her thirties at that time(She married to Rainer at 26). Also Kidman’s beauty is just as legendary but not the same. But you wouldn’t know it from her completely engaging performance.
Nicole Kidman manages to epitomize the legendary beauty without trying too hard to look like her. Kidman’s performance is so full of Grace, that it lifts the involvement to levels the film may not deserve. The conviction and expressiveness with which she plays the Princess, adds luminosity to her already ravishing presence thus doubling up on engagement. Dahan’s helming starts off as a slow burn but eventually finds speed in it’s tracking of the tax crisis and Grace’s eventual coming-of-age as Princess. The rich production values, spiffy editing, an evocative background score and lustrous cinematography add wealth to the overall experience!