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- Grace Of Monaco
Grace Of Monaco 2 stars
The year is 1962 and it has been six years since Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III and retired from acting. Rainier hopes to modernise an ailing Monaco but his plans are thwarted by French president Charles de Gaulle, who wants to reclaim the principality by force. Far from home, Grace must face an agonising decision between standing beside her husband or returning to her old life as a movie star.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
- CastNicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Paz Vega.
- DirectorOlivier Dahan.
- WriterArash Amel.
- Duration103 mins
- Official site
Olivier Dahan's fictionalised account of a turbulent year in the life of Hollywood actress Grace Kelly begins with newsreel footage of the Oscar-winning star's lavish wedding to Prince Rainier III. Grainy black and white images are complemented by effusive voiceover, which glowingly predicts the blonde starlet is "destined to live happily ever after with her charming prince."
Alas, the fairytale doesn't deliver a happy ever after for Grace Of Monaco, which must have required several blood transfusions following the barrage of razor-sharp critical barbs that greeted the film's premiere in Cannes.
Undeniably, Dahan's picture lacks substance and some of his directorial choices are misjudged such as photographing the porcelain features of Nicole Kidman in soft-focus close-up for every pivotal scene of emotional turmoil. His camera drifts woozily between her bloodshot eyes and puckered lips as she delivers Arash Amel's melodramatic script.
The year is 1962 and it has been six years since Grace (Kidman) married Prince Rainier III (Roth) and retired from acting to assume her role as glamorous figurehead of the European principality of Monaco. Hitchcock, who directed Grace in Rear Window, Dial M For Murder and To Catch A Thief, arrives in Monaco to persuade her to play the kleptomaniac heroine in Marnie. "It's going to be the role of a lifetime, Gracie!" the filmmaker predicts.
Closer to home, president Charles de Gaulle (Andre Penvern) intends to reclaim the principality and demands the citizens of Monaco pay their tax coffers into French pockets. "You agree to my terms or I will send Monaco back to the Dark Ages," de Gaulle threatens, stopping short of a throaty pantomime villain guffaw.
Thus Grace must choose between personal dreams and regal responsibilities, with guidance from ex-pat holy man, Father Francis (Frank Langella).
It's hard to muster sympathy for anyone in Grace Of Monaco - neither the self-serving bureaucrats nor the privileged social set, who savour the trappings of wealth, birth right and celebrity. Kidman attempts to capture Kelly's vocal patterns but she's poorly served by the script when it comes to layering her breathy delivery with emotion.
Roth is lacklustre and Langella lends gravitas to an endless supply of hoary sermons ("At some point, every fairytale must end!") For its myriad failings, including an infuriating inability to address Kelly's relationship with her children which is supposedly the catalyst for her inner conflict, the film has fleeting pleasures.
Gigi Lepage's costumes are gorgeous, allowing Kidman to change attire with dizzying frequency, and when juicy dialogue is scant, supporting cast merrily chew on scenery. It's a toss-up between Robert Lindsay's portrayal of Aristotle Onassis and Ashton-Griffiths's jowly take on Hitchcock who leaves the deepest teeth marks.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 24th July 2014
Maleficent 4 stars
Stefan tricks his friend, the powerful fairy Maleficent, and steals her wings in order to secure the throne. Maleficent waits patiently with shape-shifter sidekick Diaval to wreak revenge. That time comes when the queen gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Aurora, and Maleficent journeys to the castle to place a curse on the infant: on her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal slumber. Only true love's kiss will break the spell.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Family, Fantasy, Romance
- CastAngelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Brenton Thwaites, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Kenneth Cranham.
- DirectorRobert Stromberg.
- WriterJohn Lee Hancock, Linda Woolverton.
- Duration97 mins
- Official sitemovies.disney.com/maleficent
Disney's empowerment of female protagonists, which snowballed in the delightful Frozen, continues apace in Robert Stromberg's fantastical live-action fairytale. Inspired by the studio's 1959 animation Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is a visually stunning fantasy, which re-imagines the Brothers Grimm through the mascara-ed eyes of the eponymous villainess, who curses a fair princess to 100 years of slumber.
Screenwriter Linda Woolverton casts a heady spell by embellishing the familiar yarn with neat flourishes. "Let us tell an old story anew and see how well you know it..." teasingly purrs the narrator in the film's opening frames.
Lines between good and evil become blurred in Angelina Jolie's delicious portrayal of the vengeful fairy queen, whose belief in the power of "true love's kiss" is corrupted by the betrayal of the man she loves.
Sporting a hefty pair of horns, Jolie slinks through every frame, rolling menacing lines of dialogue around her mouth like candy and accentuating thinly veiled threats with an arched eyebrow. Naughty has seldom looked and sounded so nice.
Her nemesis is King Henry (Kenneth Cranham), a greedy monarch, who yearns to expand his kingdom by conquering the forest realm where Maleficent holds sway. In the ensuing battle, the king is badly wounded and pledges his crown to any man who can defeat the "winged elf".
Lowly underling Stefan (Sharlto Copley), who befriended Maleficent in childhood, tricks the fairy and steals her wings, thereby securing the throne. Following his coronation, King Stefan is poisoned by power and greed. In the forest, Maleficent bides her time with her shape-shifter henchman Diaval (Sam Riley).
When the queen gives birth to a daughter, Maleficent journeys to the castle to curse the infant Aurora: on her 16th birthday, the princess will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into eternal slumber. Only true love's kiss can break the enchantment.
King Stefan entrusts the babe to bickering fairies Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Flittle (Lesley Manville) and Thistletwit (Juno Temple), who raise Aurora in a secluded woodland cottage. The princess blossoms into a caring young woman (now played by Elle Fanning) and Maleficent wonders if this innocent could unite the feuding kingdoms and earn her happy ever after in the arms of dashing prince Phillip (Brenton Thwaites).
Maleficent is anchored by Jolie's tour-de-force theatrics. She casts a stylish shadow over every frame and her twisted maternal bond with infant Aurora ("It's so ugly, you could almost feel sorry for it!") mellows into something genuinely moving and heartfelt.
Fanning is sweetness and youthful exuberance personified while Staunton, Manville and Temple provide the broad comic relief. Digital effects are impressively harnessed by director Stromberg to realise the forest and its magical denizens and allow the title character to take flight over her domain. Like the film, she soars.