The one to blame for Tippi Hedren, and not Grace Kelly, starring in Hitchcock's 'Marnie' is really Charles De Gaulle. At least, that's what 'Grace of Monaco' suggests. It's probably not quite true, but the film doesn't pretend to be historically accurate. It says so at the beginning: it's a fictional drama, based on true events.
The film shows a relatively small part of Kelly's remarkable life. After having been married for six years to Prince Rainier of Monaco, she is visited by Alfred Hitchcock who offers her the lead in his film project 'Marnie'. She wants to do it, but reviving her acting career turns out to be impossible because of a crisis in Monaco, caused by French president Charles De Gaulle's political manoeuvrings.
We see Kelly as a somewhat naive Princess, who against her will becomes involved in political power-play. When a French diplomat suggests that Europe should become a third pillar of world power, next to the Soviet Union and the US, the American-born Kelly quips that this wouldn't be necessary if Europe wouldn't have invented communism and fascism. It's one of the best one-liners in the film.
The story switches nicely from Rainier's political problems to Kelly's own personal doubts. She is not happy as a Princess, and has trouble with the rigid conventions of life at the palace. The film even suggests that her outspoken opinions help solving the problems with France in the end. This may not be historically correct, but it makes for a nice script.
Much has been said about casting Nicole Kidman. I think there are very few actresses on the globe who would have done a better job. I'm not exactly a big fan of Kidman, but in this case she shows exactly the right mix of a strong will, a fearless non-conformist attitude and a superb elegance. She fits in perfectly with the cinematography, full of warm colours and lush images.
I liked the way the script works towards an apotheosis: a speech by Kelly at a high-profile philanthropic event in Monaco. The speech is truly great; either it's very good script writing, or Kelly employed a very talented speech writer. It's the highlight of the film: Kidman delivers her text in a truly heartfelt way, with the camera extremely close, so only a part of her face is visible.
The film has weak points. The dialogue sometimes feels clumsy and pompous, there are too many subplots and intrigues, and the director indulges a bit too much in the glamorous palace life. But at least this film doesn't make the mistake of cramming too much biographical information into a 100-minute movie. It's an enjoyable movie about one of the most interesting women in film history.