STORY: Hollywood actress Grace Kelly marries into royalty. The film looks at how she manages her own identity amidst a political crisis between Monaco and France. REVIEW: The idea of Hollywood screen legend Grace Kelly (Kidman) marrying into European royalty seems like a fairytale come true. As with most things that are too good to be true, however, all is not well in this royal household. There are murmurs of intrigue, shadows of suspicion and dollops of doubt.
In short, the royal affair seems riven with various undercurrents and enough fodder, seemingly, for a meaty story. Set in the early ’60s and a few years after she gave up her career, Grace has kids and lives the cosseted life of a princess. As she was not born into royalty itself, she faces various difficulties, amidst numerous outfit changes, of reconciling herself with the new life she has chosen. She has people to help her out. There’s a priest called Tucker (Langella) for advice as well as a coach for matters of royal etiquette. Alfred Hitchcock (Griffiths) even tries to lure her back to Hollywood.
The biggest crisis her husband faces is managing relations with France. France threatens Monaco with sanctions unless certain payments are made. However, Rainier, while looking spiffy in his sharp suits, is not played with enough gravitas by Roth. The close-ups, which are meant to convey a sense of emotion, make some scenes look like a superficial soap opera about European royalty and their various petty familial and political concerns. While Kidman puts in her best shot, the other performances are somewhat boring.
Visually, the film looks pretty, no doubt. But that cannot hide the fact that there’s barely enough substance to keep a viewer engaged. Under Dahan’s direction, Grace comes across as a mix of a bleeding heart and Princess Diana-like patron saint of her people. Dahan had got it right with 2007’s La Vie En Rose, which was about the singer Edith Piaf. Here, for a movie that attempts to portray such an interesting life, the result is pretty bland.