Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Un-Amazing Grace

Published Thursday, 05 June 2014
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I can't imagine a more disastrous film than Grace Of Monaco. It's a right Royal cock-up, featuring a muddle of a central performance by Nicole Kidman and a mess of a plot.

Sadly, what should be a privileged glimpse behind palace doors is a laughable shambles.

"You're not really going to drop a bomb on Princess Grace, are you Charles?" says US Secretary of State McNamara (Philip Delancy) to French President De Gaulle (Andre Penvern) at a charity dinner. But unfortunately, nothing as deadly or dramatic happens.

Instead Grace Of Monaco charts an incredibly dull year in the life of the former Hollywood star and glamorous wife of Prince Rainer (Tim Roth). The year in question is 1962, when the tiny Cote D'Azure Principality is threatened by neighbouring France over its tax laws. As boring as that sounds, is as tedious as this film is.

Even a looming military invasion never goes further than a heavy-breathing phone call. Heavens above, surely everybody knows after The Phantom Menace that trade embargoes are the dullest of all dramas? But even so, during this uneventful crisis, should our hearts really bleed for the millionaires of Monte Carlo?

"What's the worse thing can happen?" says Princess Grace, "We lose the silly old throne?" No, this is not a Carry On film but it should be. A pantomime Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) turns up to offer 'Gracie' a way back to Hollywood with the lead role in his forthcoming feature, Marnie. After much umming and ahhing, the Princess declines. But we all knew that already, didn't we?

Grace Kelly is a fascinating figure, an Oscar winning American actress who in 1956 got hitched to a European Prince in what the world's press described as "the marriage of the century". However, not in this movie, where she is portrayed by Nicole Kidman as a doe-eyed vacuous yap.

It's a truly awful performance. "I have made a mistake" she blathers "Everything I do and say is wrong." Not for one moment, do you believe a single beat of her wooden heart.

She is not helped by the very strange direction by Olivier Dahan, whose previous work includes the wonderful Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie En Rose. But here, he seems to have lost all narrative grasp, with a series of completely meaningless short scenes following by long lingering close-ups of Nicole Kidman's eye lashes and ear lobes.

The rest of the cast are not spared their blushes either. Tim Roth fails to convince as a morbidly stiff Rainer, while Robert Lindsey as Aristotle Onassis is bizarre casting at best and downright silly at worst. Not even a colourfully camp cameo from Derek Jacobi as the Count Fernando D'Aillieres can save the day.

Grace Of Monaco may have the glossy shine of a luxurious perfume ad but unfortunately it's a real stinker.


Grace Of Monaco (Cert 12a) is released on Friday 6th June.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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