Set in quaint little Monaco, this film does a great job of showcasing the setting’s natural and aesthetic beauty. The wide shots of the picturesque coastline, the weather shots of the crisp climate and sun-kissed land, the mid shots of the equally beautiful Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, all reveal the allure of 1962’s Monaco. Despite the brilliant show casing of the beauty that the actress turned princess was privileged to the film fails to do too much else.
In taking on the task of explaining the complex issues of Monaco’s political critical period in the early 1960s, the tragedy of marital tribulations, the pressures of royalty and the struggle of an individual going through an identity crisis director Olivier Dahan may have simply taken on too much. The politics all seem over complicated, hard to follow and a little drab, the marriage isn’t too well developed and the question of whether Grace ought to continue as an actress or put her efforts into being a monarch seems a little underplayed. None of this made the film unenjoyable or tedious to sit through. The film was still a fun exposay of Grace Kelly’s transformation into a member of Monaco’s royal family.
The film translates more as a well polished television mini series or documentary on the legendary actress turned princess. It demonstrated her fantastic style, her love of the finer things, her struggle as a parent and a wife. It all plays out rather prettily. Then there’s the pressures of politics upon an unsuspecting actress with no prior experience. as French President Charles de Gaulle threatens to invade Monaco if Prince Rainier III doesn’t impose taxes Princess Grace’s perspective is neatly presented to us. Her religious and social confusion, her hardships are all told to us. But that’s just the problem. They’re told to us rather than shown. It lacks the ability to truly make you feel.
Again this doesn’t make the film unpleasant, just a little lack luster. One thing though that no one could call lack luster was the acting. The cast headed by Nicole Kidman was supreme. A well cast film with each actor pulling their weight. Tim Roth made for a surprisingly good Prince Rainier III offering a level of insight that may have been missing from the film as a whole. Frank Langella pulled off the wise old man routine effortlessly and Robert Lindsay made a favorable appearance. Honorable mentions go to Parker Posey whom I felt played the part of an austere matriarch and stickler rather wonderfully.
With the strong cast, pretty costuming and divine scenery it is a wonder the film didn’t translate better. After all there have been many other films of this ilk that have been vastly successful. The Queen, The King’s Speech and The Iron Lady were all big hits. This film just seemed to lack the impact and the insight of those others. But if you enjoy history, the story’s of Hollywood’s rich and famous, red carpet royalty or even real royalty this film may very well tickle your fancy. As a homage to one of the greatest names in Hollywood history, there is room for gossipers and followers of fame to sink their teeth into this film.
All in all this is not a bad film. The visuals are great, and offer a look into the lives of the super rich and super famous of the 1960s. The acting is great and the casting is so well done. The whole thing just makes you want to head out to Monaco and leaves you yearning for the golden age of cinema. And that’s where it falls down. You are left wanting the golden age of cinema not experiencing it. The plot isn’t all that smart and yet it still over complicates itself. Yet it still has that spark of magic, either nostalgia or maybe just the tantalizing promise of hearing about the great Grace Kelly. Definitely worth a watch but not a must see.
2 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Nathan Perry for www.pinkandsparkles.co.nz