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By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2014 Revised 2nd January 2015
REVIEW: "GRACE OF MONACO" by Jayne Waterford

"The idea my life is a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale."
- Grace of Monaco

Olivier Dahan's "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014) is a fictional portrait of Grace of Monaco, inspired by the real events of her life. It picks up on her marriage to Prince Rainier at a very interesting juncture in their young, married life, that is when their children are young, before Stephanie is born when the principality was under threat from de Gaul, under sanctions but nothing worse and why? The solution to this political riddle is intimately related to the choices Grace makes about her career, her relationship to Hollywood and her commitment to her family. It's that delicious part of Prince Rainier and Grace's life together when they fall in love for the long haul.

Prince Albert is never mentioned. Caroline is the only child we see. Other Hollywood personalities were absent from their lives at this time. And even though Kidman takes us through her experience of becoming royal in a way first brought to film by Elisa Dolittle (Audrey Hepburn) in George Cukor's "MY FAIR LADY" (1964) and since played out in current affair programmes as we watched Diana become Charles' intended and Mary of Denmark become Danish.

Thankfully the film is a lot more complicated than Oliver Hirschbiegel's "DIANA" (2013) starring Kidman's long-time friend, Naomi Watts. When I first saw the shorts Kidman seemed so sweet I was dreading the idea that "GRACE OF MANACO" would receive a similar treatment to Nora Ephron's "BEWITCHED" (2005). That is a very light one. But that's not it at all.

Dahan's film is seamlessly edited to show Grace growing through personal issues to become the politically dedicated and effective ruler of a struggling and famous principality, that vies with The Vatican for the title of the smallest sovereign state in the world. Sure the camera loves Kidman's face. Sure the palace scribe formats movie titles correctly. Sure Kidman wears some dazzling hats that flatter her. Sure she looks like Kidman but then Kelly looked like Grace, each as dazzling as the other. In the end she grabs de Gaul by the balls with her feminine wiles and saves her husband's world. It's very smart romantic movie making. And it's not easy turning around and committing to Prince "Prat" Rainier as played by Tim Roth. She really has to believe in the institution of marriage and family to the exclusion of all else, after the manner of brick layers, to make this situation work.

Kidman's Grace is a bit wet, a bit emotional, a bit

controlled but there for the duration. And that's the genius of "GRACE OF MONACO". She seems so like only an actress playing at being a mother and princess that her politicking slips under everyone's guard to be effective.

"GRACE OF MONACO" also gives us an interesting life advice, "Don't stand too close to the edge of frame" Hitchcock Roger Ashton-Griffiths. And Frank Langella allows us to watch him as priest for the duration of the end of his career in Monaco: the ever relaxed, always appropriately available, serenity inspiring diplomat Fr. Francis Tuck. It becomes a little Princess Dianaish when Tuck reiterates a pervasive theme, "If you want your family to survive you'll need to give them a ideal they can protect and you'll have to do it alone." It turns out she's up to the challenge.

It's also charming to see Kidman demonstrate if you will, Kelly's acting craft as she takes on the greatest role of Kelly's life.

And Grace accomplishes all this in a protected environment where she is disallowed access to the political identities who shape Monaco's future. In the end I think I may have heard a rumour that it was Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro sung by Maria Callas (here played wonderfully by Paz Vega) at the ball hosted by Grace in Monaco, attended by de Gaul and

a U.S. diplomat that moved de Gaul to spare Prince Rainier's zero tax, millionaire's playground. We have time to enjoy these performances and see different elements of the event triumph with unexpected power. It's only a small place and Kidman/Grace is gorgeous. 8/10
Copyrighted ©: Jayne Waterford, 2014.

Olivier Dahan's
Director Olivier Dahan
Producers Arash Amel, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
Stars Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth and Frank Langella
Release Date 5th June 2014
Category Romantic Drama
Running Time 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
Rating PG
Origin France, USA, Belgium, Italy
Coda No

Distributor Hopscotch Film
Official Blurb "Set in 1962, six years after her celebrated Wedding of the Century, GRACE OF MONACO tells of a year in the life of one of the twentieth century's most iconic women – Grace Kelly – as she strived to reconcile her past and her present, a yearning for a return to the big screen with her newfound role as a mother of two, monarch of a European principality and wife to Prince Ranier III. While contemplating overtures from Alfred Hitchcock to return to her career in Hollywood, Grace found herself plunged into a personal crisis when Rainier's modernisation of an ailing Monaco was halted by French President Charles de Gaulle – who tried to reclaim the principality for France by force. It was a crossroads for Grace’s family, her marriage and her country, and her private life. It would become the moment in which a cinematic icon, an American far from home, would have to face a tough decision – return to her celebrated status as a movie star, globally loved and adored, or accept that she will never act again, embrace her new role and her new identity. From the director of La Vie en Rose, GRACE OF MONACO is a real-life fairytale, a sweeping romance and a portrait of the cinematic legend of Princess Grace." - Hopscotch Film PR
Director Olivier Dahan and Nicole Kidman on the set of "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).
Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) and Grace, Princess of Monaco (Nicole Kidman), in a scene from Olivier Dahan's "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).
Prince Ranier (Tim Roth) in a scene from Olivier Dahan's "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).
Grace, Princess of Monaco (Nicole Kidman), in a scene from Olivier Dahan's "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).
Maria Callas (Paz Vega) in a scene in Olivier Dahan on the set of his film "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).
Count Fernando D'Aillieres (Derek Jacobi) in a scene from Olivier Dahan's "GRACE OF MONACO" (2014).