After a highly publicised departure from Hollywood and a move from movies to monarchy, Grace of Monaco tells the story of a year in the life of Grace Kelly and the complex challenges she inherited as the appointed Princess.
From the outset, Nicole Kidman embodies the grace, poise and dignity of Kelly, paying due respect to each nuance that made Grace Kelly so enigmatic.
From French director Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose), the film commences on a movie set in Hollywood, providing viewers with a taste of the life to which Grace had become accustomed and the expectant pathway that lay before her. A chance meeting with Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth) in Cannes changed all that and the Academy Award winning actress, at the height of her career, moved to Monaco to begin life anew and start a family.
In 1961, six years after leaving Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) travels to Monaco to entice Grace back to the silver screen with the role of a lifetime in Marnie. The offer stirs political unrest at home for it is deemed inappropriate for the Princess of Monaco to appear in a Hollywood movie.
A woman of social standing is expected to behave in a certain way and when Grace speaks her mind publicly it makes people uncomfortable. Rainier urges her to keep tight-lipped around government bodies, “Everything you say has consequences”, to which Grace declares that she was “brought up to participate”.
At the same time, to finance the war in Algeria and secure their investments
French President Charles de Gaulle (Andre Penvern) asserts that Rainier is becoming “dangerously anti-French” and demands that he overrides the principality’s tax-free status and enforce all French companies with established businesses in Monaco to pay tax to the French government.
Trapped by conditions that ensure political success, Rainier and Kelly are surrounded by players in a political game that infiltrate their marriage. Grace seeks counsel from resident Catholic Priest, Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella) and ‘Tuck’ encourages her with an insightful perspective, “you came to play the greatest role of your life”. He implores her to learn the protocols of being a Princess in order to face “challenges usually impossible to overcome”.
With public opinion against her, Grace becomes a scholar of Count Fernando D’Aillieres (Derek Jacobi) to learn the history and requirements to fulfil her role. The Count shines light on the fact that “Monaco was protected by the oldest of weapons, guile” and stood for a thousand years as a symbol of freedom and sovereignty. Grace reflects,” When we come out of our own darkness we see the light. Where power possesses and destroys, light restores hope,” which generates the fuel to collaborate on the one public event of the year that would bring socialites and government figures together to make a collective difference.
October 9, 1962 at the Grand Ball, Grace stood up to the performance of her life and delivered a passionate speech including these words of inspiration, “If ever in a position of influence, I will use it for good. I believe that the world will not always be filled with hatred and conflict, if we want it enough. I have no army; I bare no resistance; I believe in love. Love will make us put away our fears, ours guns, our prejudices and love will make things light”.
The opening of Grace of Monaco at Cannes Film Festival generated scathing reviews from critics worldwide declaring it a “Disney Princess flick for grown ups” that “bares no resemblance to the historical events of the time.” The essence of this cinematic contribution has been overshadowed by its controversy. If there is any truth in the reviews that this film is just a mere fairytale, then let it be honoured as such, a story that calls forth the incredible power of myth and legend to create change, designed to engender faith and restore hope in the hearts of people and humanity.
© Patricia Herreen 2014