Gorm­less in Grace land

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - DON­ALD CLARKE


ing so much as an enor­mous em­balmed gecko be­ing nudged from lectern to draw­ing room on in­ge­niously con­cealed cast­ers. When Kid­man opens her mouth, it be­comes ap­par­ent that no at­tempt is be­ing made at im­per­son­ation.

At least poor Naomi Watts had a crack at an English ac­cent in the even more ap­palling Diana. Olivier Duhan, di­rec­tor of Le Vie en Rose, could hardly have de­liv­ered a less con­vinc­ing Princess Grace if he’d cast an oc­to­ge­nar­ian Ja­panese man.

Still, you could ar­gue that many di­rec­tors have, by al­low­ing ac­tors to cre­ate their own largely imag­ined ver­sions of real-life char­ac­ters, gen­er­ated fas­ci­nat­ing quasi-fic­tion- al takes on sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal events. Frank Lan­gella (who ap­pears here as a wit­ter­ing priest) was not, af­ter all, much like Richard Nixon in the fine Frost/Nixon.

Un­for­tu­nately, the fo­cus of Duhan’s film is an in­ci­dent from Moné­gasque eco­nomic his­tory no more in­ter­est­ing than the ex­cise is­sues that in­formed the open­ing crawl on The Phan­tom Men­ace.

As you are prob­a­bly not aware, in the early 1960s, Charles de Gaulle’s French govern­ment at­tempted to im­pose in­come tax on Monaco and – if the film is to cred­ited, any­way – only backed down when the Princess de­liv­ered a fee­ble speech that rep­re­sented the mil­lion­aires’ strug­gle as akin to the peas­ants’ re­volt. Weep? Not much. But the temp­ta­tion to hiss proved hard to re­sist.

To be fair, Grace of Monaco is car­ried off with some tech­ni­cal flair. The ex­te­rior shots ges­ture to­wards con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous Tech­ni­color; the in­te­ri­ors are im­pres­sively gloomy. Tim Roth has great fun trans­form­ing Prince Rainier into a di­vert­ing com­bi­na­tion of lesser Borgia and South Lon­don thug.

The film re­mains, how­ever, a woe­fully mis­guided project that does noth­ing for the rep­u­ta­tions of any­body listed in the cred­its. Let’s just try and for­get it ever ex­isted.

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