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Thursday 28 August 2014

Royal row as Princess Grace returns to the silver screen

Nicole Kidman plays the actress who became a princess in a film that has already offended Monaco royalty. Here, Jude Quillan explains Grace Kelly's enduring allure

Published 29/03/2014 | 02:30

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Grace at her wedding rehearsal
Grace Kelly in ‘Rear Window’
Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly

When the new Nicole Kidman biopic 'Grace of Monaco' opens the Cannes Film Festival, it will get plenty of good (by which I mean free) publicity for at least one bad reason. The royal family of Monaco is furious.

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Grace Kelly's son, Prince Albert, is spoiling for a right royal row. He and his sisters have claimed that the director ignored their feelings by making a drama about their adored mother, Princess Grace, who died in a car crash in 1982.

I can see why a filmmaker would want to put Kelly back on screen, even by proxy. Sixty years after she won the Best Actress Oscar in 1954 for 'The Country Girl', she continues to fascinate.

She was gorgeous, beguilingly enigmatic, smart, resourceful, conflicted and totally timeless.

Albert of Monaco and his sisters have denounced Olivier Dahan's film before it even opens. They will surely be affronted that the authorities at Cannes have chosen it to open this year's event. Monaco is just around the corner from Cannes and the festival is the reason Albert's parents met in the first place.

The film was already mired in controversy long before its premiere was announced. Forensic attention was given to whether Kidman was too old to play Kelly at 30. The release was supposed to be last year but it has been postponed.

The last time Kelly was portrayed in a feature was by Cheryl Ladd, a former Charlie's Angel whose performing talents were better suited to Kalashnikov than Stanislavski. Kidman is no Cheryl Ladd. She is one of the finest actresses of her generation and it's fitting she will portray one of the finest actresses of the 1950s.

BEAUTIFUL

Kelly wasn't just ridiculously beautiful, she really could act. The best directors wanted to work with her, she held her own on screen opposite Cary Grant and James Stewart, walked off with an Oscar after only a few years, and then walked away for good when only 26.

Born in the same year as Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy, Kelly had few peers when it came to global celebrity.

Yet throughout the years of crazy fame, Kelly retained her dignity, kept her marriage on track, raised three children, and did great work for charity.

'Grace of Monaco' shows her as the kind of woman determined to put personal desires aside and stick to the path of duty she'd chosen when she walked up the aisle, but later in life she may have been ready to take on roles other than the one she'd married into.

Whether film-goers will flock to see 'Grace of Monaco' or not, the film and the attendant fuss may well encourage a new generation to check out Kelly's short but sweet Hollywood career.

She made less than a dozen movies. Some of them are gems, and even the lesser ones are made watchable by her luminous, expressive face. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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