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Despite its problems, it's okay to like Lifetime's 'Grace of Monaco' anyway

There’s lot that went wrong with the Grace of Monaco biopic (that is not really a biopic). Critics are panning it, Grace and Prince Rainier’s children are declaring it “purely fictional,” and industry politics saw the film reduced from Oscar hopeful to TV movie-of-the-week.

Even so, there are things to love (or at least like a little) about this movie. Not that you need this critic to justify your affiection, but it’s okay if you want to like it, and here are a few reasons why.

The cinematography is beautiful and, at times, heartfelt.
The sweeping views of the coast and Monaco topography are absolutely striking, even if they look like they were shot in Instagram’s “Earlybird” filter by candlelight. The intent is probably to enthrall the viewers with the setting and make them sympathetic to the Prince’s politics later in the movie. It works—I sort of want to move to Monaco and live on the beach.

The characters are shot beautifully and generously. Nicole Kidman, thanks to Olivier Dahan’s (director of the acclaimed The Vie en Rose) treatment, leaves her looking ethereal and gauzy. Parker Posey’s Madge is all sharp corners and clasped hands, and even when she isn’t speaking, she’s telegraphing austerity and primness. The camera tells a story that the writing and actors couldn’t quite work out, and I enjoyed it.

Stern and fierce, Parker Posey plays lady in waiting in

Even the extreme close ups of Kidman as a pitiful and poignant Princess Grace are visual accomplishments, not necessarily ones of great acting. Marc Ehrenbold, director of photography, deserves a shout out for distracting the audience with the elegance of the film.

The fictionalized portrayals of real people are fun exercises in schadenfreude.
Kidman’s Grace Kelly-voice is so breathy and clipped, The Guardian likens it to Derek Zoolander. She slips out of Grace Kelly into a caricature of a 1960s actress and, it seems like she can’t decide where her portrayal should land. This, coupled with the awful representation of Alfred Hitchcock by Roger Ashton-Griffiths, is like watching a dog learn to dance on its hindlegs. It’s downright delightful, but not for two hours.

There is a sequence of scenes in which Princess Grace has to take “protocol” lessons, and her instructor even holds up cue cards to instruct her how to properly demonstrate “anger,” “remorse,” and “serenity.” It’s fun to watch Kidman try to do this with a straight face, but it’s a hard sell to an American audience in which the name Grace Kelly is synonymous with elegance and poise.

Nicole Kidman plays Princess in

Tim Roth does a little better as the gruff, politically-minded Prince Rainier. Roth and Kidman have little on-screen time together, so it’s difficult to invest in their relationship, but watching Roth slap the French emissary to the floor is the highlight of the first half. He’s a long way from Mr. Orange, but his mysterious portrayal of Grace’s distant husband has potential. Maybe in the (extremely unlikely to happen) sequel?

The history of both the actual events and the movie’s release is like a fascinating puzzle.
The movie drops a giant disclaimer about how it’s “a fiction inspired by real events,” which is a total stretch if you do a little digging. It’s not so much that they fudged facts to make a better movie. It’s that they are needlessly careless with truth when they don’t have to be. Prince Albert himself is quoted as saying, “It recounts one rewritten and needlessly glamorised page in the history of Monaco and its family … with both major historical inaccuracies and a series of purely fictional scenes.”

Trying to figure out what’s historically accurate and what’s not takes a little sleuthing, but doing so will likely also uncover the unfortunate trajectory of the film itself as well.

It may be hard to believe now, but this film had actual Oscar buzz back in 2012. It even premiered as the opener at the Cannes Film Festival that year. What happened after is a complicated tale mired by possible Hollywood politics. Screenwriter Arash Amel even live tweeted, while the movie aired, noting his highs and lows of the production, which should give the viewer some intriguing insight. If the rumored woes are true, there’s likely more drama in the tale of production than there is in the actual movie.

It’s a happy ending for the American Princess.
This is in no way truthful to actual events. The movie shows the Princess saving Monaco by throwing a glamorous ball in which her husband’s political adversaries all attend and change their mind about her and their “little corner of the world.” One dignitary even turns to President De Gaulle and says, “You aren’t going to bomb Princess Grace are you?”

This comes as a reaction to a terribly written, rambling speech, in which Princess Grace actually says, “I believe in fairytales,” and extols the benefits in fighting for love and beauty. It’s cringe inducing, for sure, but it makes for one hell of a happy ending.

Not only does the American actress save Monaco from obliteration at the hands of the French, she wins over the Monagalese people, roots out a usurper and traitor, and saves her marriage in one fell swoop. Man, I love a happy ending.

Nicole Kidman as Princess Grace trying to mend fences in

The problem with this is that it is so far from the truth that it might not even be about the same Princess Grace we know and love. For starters, Charles De Gaulle didn’t even attend that ball, and the inference that the American Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was in attendance is total farce. McNamara and President Kennedy had their hands full in 1962 with the Cuban Missile crisis and probably couldn’t be bothered with France’s colonialism.

After said speech, Grace returns to her table next to her Prince, and he whispers, “I love you.” She responds with a meaningful look—the movie is chock full of those. Again, the girl gets the guy, except in real life, the Prince and Princess remained estranged for the remainder of their lives. She lived out the remainder of her days in an apartment in Paris where she fantasized about ceasing to be a princess and living as “a bag lady” instead. She died at the young age of 52 in a tragic car accident.

Still, it’s a fun idea to pretend that the Hitchcock blond saved an entire country with her charm and sparkly dress (even though she dressed much more conservatively at the actual ball), and that she and her loving husband lived happily ever after. I like that version much more than the reality.

So, despite its many faults, go ahead and like this movie. It has its moments and qualities to admire, and for a film that went from Oscar hopeful to Lifetime movie, you’re getting about what you’d expect.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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