I’m not too sure why critics are panning the Hollywood biopic Grace of Monaco. It’s as though they were expecting a story of a high-profile cinematic icon who swapped her gratuitous celebrity status for a life of royal duty to be anything but stuffy and excessively staged. Hollywood. Royalty. New Money. What else did you expect, people?
It’s also possible that critics expected to see some of the grittier aspects of Grace Kelly’s career – from boardroom battles with big picture suits to her untimely death from a stroke that lead to a tragic car crash. But this wasn’t supposed to be her life story.
Rather, the film presents only one chapter of the woman’s being – only one year, during which she was offered a film role by chummy director Alfred Hitchcock, ultimately rejecting it to concentrate on helping her husband, the Prince of Monaco, in keeping the nation out of the grubby hands of the then Prime Minister of France.
Perhaps the project would have been perceived more pleasantly had it been presented as a two-part mini-series on the telly. Then again, up against the current crop of dumbed-down reality programs, critics might have cried that it lacks the ‘rawness’ of, say, The Real (yeah, right) Housewives of Melbourne. Indeed, just because we live in a society that idolises trash entertainment, doesn’t mean we can’t subjectively view a period piece where clichéd morality and corny sayings were de rigeur.
So let’s look at the film’s far-from-suburban setting. Say what you will about the Principality of Monaco – that it’s a tax haven for rich bitches and bastards, swathed in over-decorated resorts, hosting an over-hyped Grand Prix and one very tacky music festival – but we’re not here to judge a nation in general; merely to witness a fraction of one person’s high-profile life there.
Grace Kelly’s words and actions during this period were probably not too different to what any other regal figure would have said and done at the time and in such dodgy political circumstances. So she got up and gave a big speech at a charity event about the importance of love in a world rife with corruption and greed – all the while living the highlife herself? Tell it to the billionaires of today who write off decadent charity balls as tax deductions that this was a cringe-worthy stance. Would critics have preferred to see her hooked on cocaine and stumbling out of a limo with no knickers on, like some of today’s irresponsibly fucked-up stars?
And if it was Nicole Kidman’s calculated turn as Kelly that rubbed reviewers up the wrong way, consider this: she’s an actress playing an actress who had to play the proverbial role of a princess, all the while having the guts to potentially piss off a despot but, instead, manages to charm him. That’s a challenge for even the greatest of actors, and, considering the task, Kidman pulled it off well.
My guess is that most of the haters who’ve dissed this film have done so in the name of envy. They’ll never possess a fraction of the riches of a Nicole Kidman or a Grace Kelly, and probably wouldn’t have the philanthropic nous to know what to do with the all the money if they did.
‘Grace of Monaco’ is in cinemas June 5.