- Released Internationally on 14/05/14
- Released in Malta by KRS on 18/06/14
3-word review: Just a fairytale.
It was a modern-day fairytale with all the right ingredients - a celebrated actress, fresh from an Oscar win, gives up her acting career and moves to Monaco to marry Prince Ranier and live a regal life in one of the most sumptuous places on earth. Of course, there must have been dark moments and behind-the-scenes drama, and there was a fair share of tragedy too, with her unfortunate death after an accident. But the royal family of Monaco has been so upset by the portrayal in this film that they want nothing to do with it, and the film starts with the ominous statement that what we are about to see is a fictional account based on true events. So before the first scene, my interest had already plummeted.
Unlikely to be definitive
Once you’ve lost your credibility, it’s hard to pull off a biopic and keep the audience hooked. Yes, we want to see stories about the stars, but we also want to know there’s some truth in them. If I wanted to see a fictional story I’d hop into the adjacent cinema and watch Maleficent. So although the events as they unfold in this film are interesting enough, you might find yourself trawling through Wikipedia afterwards trying to filter fact from fiction. It does tend to ruin the moment, and it definitely robs the film of a lot of gravitas. It’s uncannily similar to the situation a few months ago with Naomi Watts’ portrayal in Diana.
The film starts by focusing on Alfred Hitchcock’s attempts to convince Grace Kelly to return to Hollywood and star in his film Marnie. This is mostly true, I guess, but it seems to be given huge national importance here. We then shift to the politics of French President De Gaulle trying to force Monaco to pay taxes. Tim Roth (The Legend of 1900, Pulp Fiction) negotiates and looks immensely bored as Prince Ranier, while Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Good Night and Good Luck) is the local friar who acts as confidant and advisor to the princess. There’s some marital tension of course, and some sibling rivalry, but somehow Grace manages to solve everything in the end by throwing a ball and giving a soppy speech. Whether things happened like this or whether they even happened in the same decade needs some investigation, but the filmmakers don’t seem to care.
In the end
In the end
It’s pretty to look at, but once the slight magic wears off you’re left with a boring drama that is too artificial to be labelled as biographical, and too mundane to be labelled as a fairytale. It’s June, so do yourself a favour and watch the World Cup instead.