HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Grace of Monaco
HTS Overall Score:66
“Grace of Monaco” is a film steeped in controversy, so much so that it was delayed over a year for its theatrical and home video releases in the U.S. distributed by Harvey Weinstein, who is FAMOUS for slicing and dicing movies down to a shorter runtime to appease the masses, it was meant to come out in early 2014, but Harvey thought Dahan’s original cut was too dreary and depressing. After some work and some sacrifices from both Harvey and Dahan, I can certainly see why. Based upon the real life story of film legend Grace Kelly (played here by Nicole Kidman) married a Prince Rainier III of Monaco (played by Tim Roth) and became an overnight princess. The problem is that the source material is a little bleak and depressing, which became even MORE depressing on screen. The acting is so wooden that I fear a single match could light the thing on fire, and the uninteresting writing keeps the viewer from really connecting with any of the characters.
We all know the famed Grace Kelly. She was one of America’s darlings of cinema, and stunning beauty to boot. In her late twenties she got married to Prince Rainier of Monaco, wherein she moved back to the little nation to live out the rest of her live away from the silver screen. Now about 33ish, Grace and her husband have to fend off the advances of Charles De Gaulle of France, who is getting to invade Monaco because Monaco refuses to pay taxes to the bully De Gaulle. To compound things even further, Grace has decided to take the lead real in Alfred Hitchcock’s new movie, “Marnie” and her decision to star in said role has created a lot of controversy amongst the people as well as the statesmen. Add in a subplot of a mole within the Royal palace and you have the setting for a wonderful biographical thriller.
As good as the ingredients are, the proof is in the pudding, and this pudding is just plain tasteless. I watched the entire movie from beginning to end and not once did I feel a stir of any emotion other than “huh, ok, that just happened”. The movie plods along at a decent clip, but I honestly feel that I’ve had summer days in June that were less dry. Nicole Kidman does a semi decent job of Grace Kelly, but she’s always been a very wooden actress and here is no different. Which makes it incredibly off putting when she’s playing the vivacious and extremely charismatic Grace Kelly. Tim Roth is semi sleazy, semi good (he always plays creepy sleazy characters well) Rainier III, but again, he’s just sleepwalking through the role without putting any effort or emotion into the role. A choice that doesn’t add any moisture at all to the dry as a bone movie.
I don’t think Director Olivier Dahan had much faith in the accuracy or faith in his work as he even has an opening scroll with the words “this is a fictional account inspired by true events”. If you’re making a biography (as “Grace of Monaco” has been advertised as) then that’s a bit of warning sign right there. It doesn’t help that pretty much ALL of the movie was completely fictional. Much of what we know about Grace and Rainier III’s life is fragmented, but what we do know is that they had a marriage of convenience and the movie itself plays out as a romantic soap opera mixed with woman’s lib tossed in to keep in modernized. One liners are bad and the movie just plays out as a B movie with a low budget and a desire to spice up the movie as much as possible with melodrama (Charles De Gaulle utters a line about sending Monaco back to the dark ages that is so bad it’s almost funny).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61033[/img]The 2.35:1 encoded DVD looks rather nice, with warm colors and a decidedly yellow push to the grading. Set in the 1960’s I can see why they used the yellow push, as that seems to be consistent with modern film makers to portray the 60s and 70s. Outdoor shots can look a bit more natural and cleaner, while the interior portions of the film (especially when dealing with the palace) have a decidedly golden hue to them. Fine detail is good, but never spectacular, as the movie looks like it has a gauzy, soft haze draped over the film. It’s never enough to be annoying, but instead gives the movie a sort of surreal and aged look to it. Blacks are solid and mostly impressive, with only a few moments that look washed out due to the aggressive golden color grading and gauzy coating. I did notice some macroblocking at times, especially near the end at the giant party, but overall compression artifacts and digital tampering are kept to a minimum.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=61041[/img]“Grace of Monaco” is a fairly straightforward 5.1 audio mix with a decidedly front heavy bent. Dialog is always audible and clear of any distortions, and the front soundstage uses some good panning effects when necessary. Simply put, the track is very much a drama sound track and that carries all the good and bad of the style along with it. There’s not a whole lot of surround activity, but what sound is reproduced in the back channels is nice, with little background noises like a car door slamming or the murmuring of people in the background during the party etc. LFE is mild and used only to support the low end of certain sound effects rather than really pounding away. It’s simple and the track really just does what is required of it effortlessly.
I really wish “Grace of Monaco” was better than it was. Grace Kelly is an incredibly fascinating woman and one of the best old time actresses to grace the silver screen. Here body of works is incredible and her kindness well known. To focus so much on a single even in her life and have her played by Nicole Kidman (who is not only 15 years too old for the job but covered in so much botox I don’t think she has ANY ability to change expressions) is almost criminal. I didn’t find the movie BAD per se, but rather it didn’t inspire any emotion from me whatsoever, whether good OR bad. Audio and video look solid for a DVD, but unfortunately there is NO extras at all on the disc, which is an even bigger shame considering this is a biographical film.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Paz Vega
Directed by: Olivier Dahan
Written by: Arash Amel
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Runtime: 103 Minutes
DVD Release Date: December 1st 2015
Buy Grace of Monaco On DVD at Amazon
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