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Grace of Monaco

Film

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This much-maligned film tells the story of a year in the life of Grace Kelly and the complex challenges she inherited after her move from movies to the monarchy.

Nicole Kidman’s performance has certainly earned mixed responses, but in this reviewer’s opinion she embodies the poise and dignity of Kelly, paying due respect to each nuance that made the princess so enigmatic.

The film, directed by Frenchman Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose), opens on a movie set in Hollywood, providing viewers with a taste of the life to which Kelly had become accustomed. A chance meeting with Prince Rainier III (played by Tim Roth) in Cannes changes everything, and the Oscar-winning actress moves to Monaco to begin life anew and start a family.

In 1961, six years later, Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) travels to Monaco to try to entice Kelly back to the silver screen with the role of a lifetime in Marnie. The offer stirs political unrest, for it is deemed inappropriate for the Princess of Monaco to appear in a Hollywood movie.

A woman of social standing is expected to behave in a certain way, and when Grace speaks her mind publicly, it makes people uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Prince Rainier is preoccupied by a dispute with French President Charles de Gaulle, who is demanding that he override the principality’s tax-free status.

Rainier and Kelly are surrounded by the players in a political game that infiltrates their marriage.

With public opinion against her, the princess becomes a scholar of Count Fernando D’Aillieres (Derek Jacobi) to learn the history and requirements to fulfill her role. She is inspired to collaborate on a public event – the 1962 Grand Ball –  that will bring socialites and government figures together.

It is at the ball that Princess Grace gives the performance of her life, delivering a passionate speech: “If ever in a position of influence, I will use it for good. I believe that the world will not always be filled with hatred and conflict, if we want it enough. I have no army; I bare no resistance; I believe in love. Love will make us put away our fears, ours guns, our prejudices and love will make things light.”

As the story draws to a close, the film shows Kelly sitting in contemplation reading a letter from resident Catholic priest Father Francis Tucker in which he writes that long after the house of Grimaldi has fallen, her name will be remembered – a prediction that certainly proved true.

The recent opening of Grace of Monaco at the Cannes Film Festival generated scathing reviews from critics worldwide, with one declaring it a “Disney princess flick for grown-ups”. Others – including the royal family in Monaco – have argued that it is historically inaccurate.

To be fair, however, the credits refer to “a fictional account inspired by real events”, and include a quote from Grace Kelly that “the idea of my life as a fairytale is itself a fairytale”.

Ultimately, the essence of this cinematic contribution has been overshadowed by its controversy. If it is just a fairytale, then let it be honoured as such – a story that calls forth the incredible power of myth to create change, engender faith and restore hope.

 

 

 

 

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