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Grace of Monaco DVD Review

Grace of Monaco DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Grace of Monaco
Movie & DVD Details

Director: Olivier Dahan / Writer: Arash Amel

Cast: Nicole Kidman (Grace Kelly), Tim Roth (Prince Rainier), Frank Langella (Francis Tucker), Paz Vega (Maria Callas), Parker Posey (Madge), Milo Ventimiglia (Rupert Allan), Geraldine Somerville (Princess Antoinette), Nicholas Farrell (Jean-Charles Rey), Robert Lindsay (Aristotle Onassis), Sir Derek Jacobi (Count Fernando D'Aillieres), Andrι Penvern (Charles De Gaulle), Jeanne Balibar (Countess Baciochi), Flora Nicholson (Phyllis), Yves Jacques (Mr. Delavenne), Olivier Rabourdin (Emile Pelletier), Roger Ashton Griffiths (Alfred Hitchcock), Jean Dell (Denard)

Original Air Date: May 25, 2015 / Running Time: 103 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Surround 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: December 1, 2015 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Grace of Monaco at Amazon.com: DVD • Instant Video

Awards chatter started forming around Grace of Monaco the moment it was announced. It's tough to assume anything else when you hear that there will be a Grace Kelly biopic starring Nicole Kidman and that it will be distributed by The Weinstein Company.
Kidman won an Oscar for playing Virginia Woolf and was nominated two other times while also being something of a Golden Globes fixture. The industry loves stories about itself and about one of its own. Kelly, a two-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner, is held up as one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars. With the studio behind many an Oscar winner and the director of Marion Cotillard's statuette-earning La Vie en Rose behind it, what could go wrong for this project?

A lot, apparently. After premiering at the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival, a logical first stop for any film seeking prestige, Grace saw its buzz replaced by stench. Suddenly, this would-be 2014 contender was nothing more than a pretender and one that would be subject to the second-guessing, editorial conflict, and intervention that many a Weinstein movie has endured.

Grace recently picked up its second and, most likely, final awards nomination when Kidman received a nod from her peers in the Screen Actors Guild's Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor... in a Television Movie or Miniseries category. That's right, amidst critical disgust and a reportedly difficult post-production, Grace skipped a standard theatrical release altogether and ended up premiering on Lifetime of all places in May of this year. (Its other nomination was for the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie, an honor it lost to HBO's Bessie, whose star, Queen Latifah, is likely to defeat Kidman for that SAG.)

Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) takes some finishing lessons in stride in the biopic "Grace of Monaco."

Grace opens none too promisingly with a blow-cushioning disclaimer which calls the film "a fictional account inspired by real events." We then see Kelly wrapping a film shoot in Los Angeles in 1956. That shoot will end up being her last. We jump ahead to Monaco in 1961, where Kelly is now the princess, married to Prince Rainier (Tim Roth). Their marriage isn't in the best of places, when Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) comes calling, looking for Kelly to make her big screen return in his upcoming thriller Marnie. Kelly is interested, but there are protocols to respect in this monarchy. The possibility of a Hollywood return is a bit of a touchy subject for the Prince and for the people of Monaco.

The movie is not concerned with Grace Kelly the movie star, but Grace Kelly the princess. (The tagline, "The greatest role Grace Kelly would ever play", refers to that of real-life princess.) It shows the actress' candor not making her the most natural fit for diplomacy. She tries to be the best princess she can be, taking French lessons and history lessons. In secret, she raises the subject of a divorce with her advisor and confidante, Father Francis Tucker (Frank Langella), who warns of the consequences for her and her two daughters.

Grace is one clunky biopic. It is plagued by heavy-handed storytelling and on-the-nose dialogue. It treats Kelly, who it reminds us is the daughter of a Philadelphia brickworker, like The Princess Diaries' Mia Thermopolis. It also fails to make us the slightest bit interested in the political issues facing Monaco in the 1960s, at the time when Kelly is weighing her options on Marnie.

As Kelly's not terribly supportive husband Prince Rainier, Tim Roth does a lot of snarling.

The movie's climax is a big, long speech by the princess at the 1962 Red Cross Ball, a big acting moment that must have been foreseen as the kind of thing that would be excerpted in awards ceremonies.

In fact, Kidman doesn't deserve much, if any, blame for the movie's failings. Sure, she's almost as old now as Kelly ever lived to be and is supposed to be fifteen years younger than she is. The film doesn't even seem to get Kelly's hair color right. Kidman's American accent is fine, but she's better than the broad depictions she is asked to give.
And the whole plot about uncovering conspiracy within the monarchy possibly involving Kelly's assistant (Parker Posey) and/or Rainer's sister (Geraldine Somerville) is just entirely devoid of intrigue. At least the end credits run long, meaning you can stop watching a few minutes earlier than you think you can.

After not bothering with a theatrical release, perhaps it isn't too surprising that The Weinstein Company and home video partner Anchor Bay Entertainment also didn't bother putting Grace on Blu-ray. This telemovie that wasn't conceived as one is now available to own on the DVD reviewed here and in SD and HD digital formats.

VIDEO and AUDIO

DVD remains in favor with much of the general public, which has been slow to demand high definition from their physical media. But, while fine on its own standard definition merits, Grace doesn't look so hot to someone accustomed to Blu-ray. The 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation seems a little soft and fuzzy, quite possibly by design, and experiences certain minor hiccups on tracking shots and layer changes that you no longer encounter on BD. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is pretty fine and the disc uses player-generated English subtitles to translate the infrequent French passages.

Like the movie it holds, the barebones Grace of Monaco DVD main menu can't resist going in for a tight close-up on Nicole Kidman's brow.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

For some reason (embarrassment? residual tension?),
the DVD has no extras, not even trailers for other Weinstein/Anchor Bay properties. Screenwriter Arash Amel did live tweet the movie's premiere in a frank and critical fashion, which will likely be the closest this ever gets to a tell-all commentary.

The main menu loops a scored, screen-filling montage.

The silver disc is held in an insert-less uncut black keepcase and topped by a glossy slipcover.

"Grace of Monaco" climaxes (and should end) with Grace Kelly (Nicole Kidman) delivering a long speech at the 1962 Red Cross Ball.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

In the realm of biopics, Grace of Monaco lands around the same place as that Naomi Watts Princess Diana movie that came and went with no fanfare. Grace Kelly's life was remarkable enough to warrant some rumination, but this lifeless attempt to depict her family struggles and political challenges does nothing to hold your interest or win your approval. This barebones DVD marks the unmomentous end of the road for a hopeful production plagued by disappointment.

Buy Grace of Monaco at Amazon.com: DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Nicole Kidman:
Strangerland • The Paperboy • The Railway Man • Margot at the Wedding • Billy Bathgate • Nine • Australia • Just Go With It • Eyes Wide Shut



Tim Roth: Selma • Broken • Four Rooms • Skellig: The Owl Man • Dark Water | Paz Vega: The Spirit
Written by Arash Amael: Erased | Grace Kelly: To Catch a Thief
New to DVD: Walt Before Mickey • Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow
Biopics: My Week with Marilyn • Lovelace | Royalty: The King's Speech • The Queen • The Princess Diaries • W./E.
Lifetime: Maneater • 12 Men of Christmas • On the 2nd Day of Christmas • Ebbie

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Reviewed December 16, 2015.



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