Grace of Monaco (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Olivier Dahan
Distributor: eOne

Grace of Monaco (DVD) – Movie Review

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Good: Good acting, intresting subject matter
Bad: Superficial, poor visuals
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Grace Kelly: for some it is the name of the legendary Hollywood starlet, for many more it is the name of the Princess of Monaco. Her life has been the prime example of the American Dream and has been considered a real-life fairytale. Of course, the truth behind the façade of a perfect life is generally completely different. Even Kelly must have gone through troubled times. She left behind what she knew to search for a new life in Monaco and had to adapt to the customs and culture of the strange land.


In Grace of Monaco, we follow Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) long after she has said farewell to the big screen. She is living in Monaco, together with her husband Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth). The two of them have two children: Caroline & Albert II. On the outside the couple looks very much in love, the reality however is quite different.

Grace can’t really adapt to the Monégasque lifestyle. She doesn’t know the customs and has a poor grip on the French language. Rainier is occupied with regal affairs, which leaves her in a strange land without the affection of her husband. It becomes even worse when the president of France, Charles de Gaulle (André Penvern), needs Monaco to help him pay the bill for his war in Algiers. Rainier doesn’t want to sacrifice his country for the expenses done by France but is threatened by the economic power (and the large army) of France.

grace-of-monaco-2Plot wise, the movie mostly focuses on the role Grace Kelly played during these difficult times for Monaco. The actors do a splendid job putting down the characters. Kidman does a great job playing Grace, she adapts Kelly’s composure and at times really seems to become the late Princess. Roth, who came to the limelight thanks to roles in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, portrays an excellent Rainier, who is still struggling with his power. The chemistry between the two also helps to sell the love story in the movie.

The story has a lot of potential. An imminent crisis for the country combined with the relationship troubles of Rainier and Grace should be more as enough to have a compelling movie. Unfortunately, director Olivier Dahan (who also made the excellent La Vie en Rose) choses to tease us with interesting plot elements, but forgets to actually follow up on them in a meaningful way. Instead, he opts for a very superficial take on this part of history.

Accompanying the scenes is mostly classical music. For a movie about royals, this is hardly a surprising choice, but it isn’t a bad one either. With Maria Callas (Paz Vega) being one of the court guests, it is a given that we are treated to at least one performance of the opera star.

grace-of-monacoSo, why doesn’t this film get a higher score? Well, for one the camera work is subpar at best. A lot of overly dramatic close-ups of eyes that seem to last forever are something that happens regularly in this movie. Together with the shine of gold covering just about any scene it adds something surreal to the movie. Perhaps it is the directors way of demonstrating that the movie really isn’t a biography, but just fairy tale that just so happens to be based upon real life people.

That brings me to the last part of critique. It really isn’t a biography of the life of Grace Kelly. We’ve been spoiled lately with awesome bios such as Ali, Ray, Walk the Line, …, but Grace of Monaco never even touches the quality level of these movies. It is partly because the Grace in this movie is a perfect being, unable to make mistakes or errors and nothing she does is wrong. Because of this, you feel like the movie is going through the motions, without actually respecting its subject matter. The movie isn’t historical correct at all. Sure, poetic freedom must be allowed, but you’d expect a bit more reality from a movie that is based on true events.


Grace of Monaco is an empty movie which is elevated to a decent level by its actors. The story stays superficial and never delves into the personal motivations, but it will still keep you entertained for the duration of the movie. It’s a shame, because the subject of Grace Kelly is truly interesting.

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