This week’s reviews are undercover
Dir: Olivier Dahan • Wri: Arash Amel • Pro: Arash Amel, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam • Ed: Oliver Gajen • DOP: Eric Gautier • CAST: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi
This preposterous, mind-numbingly boring account of the role Grace Kelly had in ensuring that Charles de Gaulle didn’t introduce taxes into Monaco arrives here in the wake of a deserved critical mauling at Cannes. Sadly, recalling Diana, the awfulness of the picture does not allow for fun, ironic enjoyment. Like that wretched film from last year, so bad it’s good this film definitely isn’t.
While an exploration of Grace Kelly in itself could have been interesting, the focus of how she nobly gave up her acting career so as to help her husband Prince Rainier III (Roth) protect all the poor princes of Monaco from having to pay taxes manages to be both jaw-droppingly misguided and also rigorously uninteresting. Why the filmmakers thought that this storyline would be of any interest to anybody and quite how they felt this alleged aspect of Kelly’s life as something noble and to be admired is so thoroughly beyond comprehension that one is left in a simply numb state. That the premise of a supposedly life-affirming biopic could be so misjudged would be offensive if it wasn’t so utterly stupid. This juxtaposition of bad politics and profound boredom is quite the achievement for director Olivier Dahan, who also made the over-rated Edith Piaf bio, La Vie en Rose.
The acting is largely unremarkable but not the type of terrible that could provoke any type of unintentional hilarity. Kidman, though definitely miscast, brings a dreary functionality to her Kelly. Tim Roth scowls, smokes and sighs his way through the film but he certainly avoids any accusations of campiness. In fact it appears that such is the low key nature of his performance that he’s hoping that if he just keeps his head down and doesn’t draw attention to himself people might forget he was ever in the film. I suspect Roth needn’t worry too much as it is unlikely that any viewers will be wanting to remember this mess once they are through enduring it.
At least Derek Jacobi seems to be having some fun, camping proceedings up a bit as a Count who – in one, of many, ludicrous sequences – goes about teaching Grace the correct ways to behave in Monaco. Generally, one is left feeling sympathy for talented performers such as Kidman and Roth being lumbered with such insipid material. The technical aspects of the film are for the most part equally nothing to write home about. The only genuinely good thing on show here is Eric Gautier’s lush, colourful cinematography.
Dahan himself appears bored at times. He takes to shaking the camera violently into the eyeballs and nostrils of Kidman in a few bizarre moments which, though unlikely to be confused with Jonathan Glazer’s lengthy Kidman close-up in Birth, do account for the closest thing to directorial inspiration one will encounter in this moronic film.
16 (See IFCO for details)
Grace of Monaco is released on 6th May 2014