We first see Grace (Nicole Kidman, who has decided not to go for a vocal impersonation of the real Kelly, opting for something closer to Marilyn Monroe) on the set of To Catch A Thief, having just wrapped that notorious car ride scene. Cut to five years down the line and she’s a princess cum housefrau with two little kids and a principality to look after. Hubby Ray (Prince Rainier, played by Tim Roth in an unusual bit of casting) is often out at work and doesn’t have much time for his wife and kids. When Hitchcock shows up to offer Grace the role of Marnie, she’s itching to get back to work, causing the first of a series of serious crises for Monaco and her marriage.
Grace hasn’t learned French, she doesn’t get palace protocol and she is bossed about by Madge, a lady-in-waiting akin to Mrs Danvers. Madge is disapproving, unlikeable and seemingly up to no good. Luckily, Grace has a good friend in Maria Callas (Paz Vega). She and boyfriend Aristotle Onassis (Richard Lindsay) are always hanging out at the palace, Onassis helping Ray run the country and giving him marriage guidance, whilst Maria encourages Grace to be her own woman. You go, girls!
At a loss how to save her marriage, Grace says “Everything I do or say is wrong” and the same could be said for this film: nobody does or says anything right. This is because the storyline is absurd and the dialogue risible. Nobody comes out of this film unscathed, whether it’s Derek Jacobi’s camp count, acting as Grace’s makeover coach, or Frank Langellla’s sage old priest who enunciates everything gravely and gravelly.
And why not base the film on real events? Were Grace and Rainier not interesting enough, what with her Hollywood ice-queen facade hiding a slapper background and his princely serial philandering? Do we really need the palace overthrow story? This is a terrible, terrible film and a waste of a potentially fascinating story about a Hollywood legend. She deserved better and so do we.