Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grace of Monaco Fails to honour the subject

Life as a princess in not the fairy tale that most people imagine it to be. The ‘Princess of Hearts,’ Princess Diana, discovered this fact. Long before her the stunning starlet Grace Kelly too underwent this realization when she falls for Monaco’s Prince Ranier III and ties the knot with him in a fairy tale wedding.

French director Olivier Dahan opens his cinematic venture ‘Grace of Monaco’ during this stage when the beautiful Kelly, now a mother of two, dwells in isolation, yearning for the life she led before marriage. Protocol forbids her to reunite with old mentor Alfred Hitchcock, while her husband is increasingly preoccupied by a bitter tax dispute with the principality’s Gallic neighbours.

Incredibly dull

Trapped by a critical husband, stifling etiquette and an enemy-packed palace Kelly is set up as a real life damsel in distress. When Hitchcock comes a-calling with the script to ‘Marnie,’ Kelly is torn between her need to return to Hollywood and her duties as a princess. Will the already critical public accuse her of deserting her marriage and humanitarian duties if she returns to Hollywood? Or should she refuse Hitchcock and instead nail the trickiest role of her life by playing the People’s Princess?

Dahan’s take on Kelly’s personal traumas amid the political struggles between Monaco and France is disappointing. You never get a satisfying feeling because both subjects are not well explored. Instead you get a dose of both the psychological aspect as well as the political situation merged together. This makes it tiresome to watch.

‘Grace of Monaco’ is uninspiring from its first frame to its last. Little is left to the imagination as the events proceed. Though the life story of Aung San Suu Kyi is well known across the world Luc Besson did wonders in bringing the tale in an engaging manner through his 2011 movie ‘The Lady.’ Dahan should have taken some pointers from Besson. Though ‘Grace of Monaco’ has all the ingredients which could make it a glitzy soap opera, the output is incredibly dull!

A right royal farce

The climax in which Kelly finally saves the day by putting her own interests aside and does an Elizabeth-style iconic transformation by announcing “I am Monaco” is overdone. Meantime Hollywood has been put on the back burner in the film. This maybe because screenwriter Arash Amel feelings the familiar shadow of Hitch need not shroud his film after the recent biopics ‘Hitchcock’ and ‘The Girl.’

Nicole Kidman may not have been the best choice for the title character. Though she does her best to perform her role well her transformation into Grace Kelly fails to capture the essence of the star. While bearing only a little resemblance to Kelly, Kidman could have portrayed a better picture had she been given a better script and a better makeover.

Tim Roth hardly makes much of an impact as the tight-lipped Prince Ranier. The rest of the cast too seem to be overly caricatured or lacks personality. Only Frank Langella’s fatherly priest looks halfway convincing.

The only saving grace in the movie is probably in its eye candy. These include exotic locations, dazzling jewellery, immaculately coiffured hair and glamorous gowns. Kelly’s look at the Red Cross charity ball is simply breathtaking.

‘Grace of Monaco’ could clearly be labeled as a lost opportunity. The protagonist is a woman who oozes charisma. The background too is enticing for history buffs. However Dahan fails to deliver any dramatic punch or psychological insight. ‘Grace of Monaco’ maybe based on fictional accounts inspired by the real events but movie fans who have pinned high hopes on seeing a work of art as a tribute to their idol are sadly let down. More than a royal melodrama it is a right royal farce. - Ruwini Jayawardana