GRACE OF MONACO
Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth, Frank Langella
When a star marries her Prince Charming, life in a gilded cage isn’t all it’s cracked to be and soon she’s gagging for her independence. But enough about Nicole Kidman’s marriage to Tom Cruise… Or not, since director Olivier Dahan milks the parallels to Grace Kelly’s cloistered existence in this vaguely truthful biopic, which charts six months in her marriage to Prince Rainier (Tim Roth, in a spot of 'WTF?' casting) during which she entertains an acting comeback in Hitchcock’s Marnie. Dahan whips up enough backstabbing palace intrigue to prevent this being just a woe-is-me wallow. But it’s dramatically clunky (including a daft interlude with Derek Jacobi as Grace’s etiquette guru) and not a patch on Dahan’s Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie En Rose. Still, Kidman is perfect casting as Kelly and looks radiant swanning around gorgeous Cote d’Azur locations. Like a pleasure-boat cruise, it’s entertaining and instantly forgettable.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
British director Amma Asante brings us the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed-race illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer brought up among the aristocracy in 18th century England, when the first legal rumblings about the abolition of slavery were in progress. It's a brave attempt to grapple with racial prejudice in a costume drama, but despite the beauty and star potential of the lead, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the melodramatic tenor has a habit of swamping nuance.
Woody Allen, John Turturro, Sharon Stone
John Turturro stars as a reluctant 'ho', with Woody Allen as his septuagenarian pimp, while Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara play his smoking hot clients and Vanessa Paradis the Hasidic widow he falls for. If that sounds like a Mel Brooks film on acid, it’s far less zany in Turturro’s hands (he also writes and directs), and more of a melancholy study of loneliness than a giddy sex romp. Still, it does hand Allen his punchiest, funniest role in years.
Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page, Scoot McNairy
Ellen Page had us at Juno, and she’s only rocketed in our estimation since coming out. Sadly, Touchy Feely doesn’t do her any favours, the tale of a Seattle masseuse (DeWitt) who’s suddenly repulsed by human touch. Page is stuck in an underpowered role as her meek, unassuming niece, although Allison Janney and McNairy spark proceedings up as a groovy reiki therapist and DeWitt’s boho boyfriend. Watch Page’s emotive coming-out speech on YouTube instead: it’s far more captivating.
Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Cecile De France
Cedric Klapisch completes his trilogy about a multinational group of friends that began with 2002’s Pot Luck. Back then, Klapisch’s gang caroused in bohemian squalor in Barcelona; now they’re older, richer, not much wiser, and living in NYC loft apartments. It’s a cute conclusion, with De France nicking the show as lesbian Isabelle, Duris underlining his Gallic heartthrob credentials, and Tautou speaking flawless Chinese in the film’s comic highpoint.