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Grace of Monaco (2015)
Grace Kelly's fame materialized fairly quickly with her second big screen role, playing opposite Gary Cooper in the four-time Oscar-winning 1952 classic, High Noon. A year later, Kelly's work in director John Ford's drama Mogambo earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, followed by her Oscar win for Best Leading Actress starring with Bing Crosby and William Holden in The Country Girl in 1954. After her 'Wedding of the Century' to Prince Rainier III in 1956, Grace Kelly remained a popular celebrity worldwide but never worked in film again.
Without a doubt, Nicole Kidman brings a resonating glow reminiscent of Old Hollywood to the screen in Grace of Monaco. It's a great-looking movie, and Kidman's fascinating portrayal is its crowning jewel when she's in the frame making the transition from actress to princess. I fully expected Kelly to be presented as a rich girl turned big screen star who merely saw her new royal standing as the role of a lifetime, but she's shown here struggling to find a sincere truth for herself as a modern American woman now bound by arcane tradition. Langella playing Kelly's stabilizing mentor provides some stunning moments.
The downside of Grace of Monaco is pretty much everything else this feature attempts bringing to the screen. Instead of sticking with its strength as a thoroughly compelling fish out of water character study, Arash Amel's screenplay then relies on the political understanding of a toddler to recreate aspects of Monaco's plight as a tax haven threatened with invasion by France. When that exercise in a lot of talent wasting handwringing fizzles, the script conjures up a half-baked yarn of inconsequential intrigue for Princess Grace and her trusted staff to get all up in like Miss Marple. Yeah, that silliness happens.
Normally, I'd be enthusiastic about actual events being embellished upon for the sake of telling an entertaining story, but the peripheral distractions here are so ridiculously insulting that they end up sabotaging a paying audience's over-all enjoyment of what plays out - regardless of whether or not some of it actually happened.
As a showcase for Nicole Kidman's natural on-screen presence and talent for realizing a captivating portrayal, Grace of Monaco is definitely a thoroughly interesting small portrait for fans of big screen acting. Unfortunately, the entire fairy tale of Grace Kelly's regal transformation continually collapses into a burdensome superficial mess whenever the screenplay tries to tell its colouring book account of possible events. Check it out if you're a Kidman fan, but give it a wide pass if you're a cinephile or history buff. Reviewed 04/15, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Grace of Monaco is rated NR by
the Ontario Film Review Board, and is rated G by la Régie
du Cinéma in Québec.
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