After a disastrous premiere at Cannes in 2014, this “fictional account inspired by real events” sat on the shelf for more than a year before its release. The simplistic story focuses on the 1962 crisis when France’s President Charles de Gaulle, mired in the costly Algerian War, blockaded Monaco, angered by its status as a tax haven for wealthy French. At the same time, director Alfred Hitchcock made a visit to the palace to tempt Grace Kelly to return to Hollywood to star in his upcoming psychological thriller “Marnie.” Read on…
As it unfolds on-screen, when Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) arrives, Princess Grace (Nicole Kidman) is growing restless with her life as wife and mother, living luxuriously in the 235-room Grimaldi palace overlooking the Mediterranean, noting: “The idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale.”
The outspoken, Philadelphia-born Oscar-winner still feels like an outsider amid the manners and mores of European aristocracy. Encouraged by her confidante, Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella), the Catholic priest who arranged her 1956 marriage to chain-smoking Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), she works with a protocol expert (Derek Jacobi) to subversively dazzle de Gaulle (Andre Penvern) with diplomacy at the annual Red Cross charity ball.
Barely glimpsed in the background are powerful Greek financier Aristotle Onassis (Robert Lindsay) and his mistress, famed opera singer Maria Callas (Paz Vega).
While Nicole Kidman resembles Grace Kelly, she emanates no depth of feeling, a problem attributable to the banal banter concocted by screenwriter Arash Amel and director Olivier Dahan (“La Vie en Rose”), who even manage to squeeze in a conspiratorial subplot involving Rainier’s duplicitous sister, Princess Antoinette (Geraldine Somerville), and a lady-in-waiting (Parker Posey).
Monaco’s Prince Albert is furious about the portrayal of his father as a weak leader, declaring: “The princely family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Grace of Monaco” is a trivial 3 – a dull, dreary mishmash.