The most celebrated and attended film festival in France has begun, and with it the premiere of the Nicole Kidman biography drama Grace of Monaco -the story of former star Grace Kelly’s dilemma of identity and marriage during political altercations between Monaco’s Prince Rainer III and France’s Charles De Gaulle- which was set to be the festivals opener, and has been deemed controversial and tepid by the Cannes Film Festival attendees.
French director Olivier Dahan had a squabble with Hollywood institution Harvey Weinstein, who owns the rights to distribute the film in the United States. Yet under French law, the rights to final cut belong to Dahan, which led to the strife between them. The festival, and Dahan himself, announced that the quarrel had been resolved. In a press conference Dahan stated that there is only “one version of the film and Harvey will use that version.” He continued to declare that if any changes are necessary for the film’s U.S. release, they will be dealt with in cooperation with the distribution company.
The film has also been condemned by Monaco’s royal family after a falling out with the director. The royal family has expressed that the film is a very inaccurate portrayal of their ancestors. Kidman stated that the film wields no malice towards the family, and that as artists they have taken “dramatic license,” and her performance was “done with love.” Dahan addressed the criticism by stating that he never had the intention of being a “biographer.” He declared he is an artistic filmmaker and his main goal was to depict the “heart” of the story and characters.
Aside from the controversy surrounding Grace of Monaco, the Cannes Film Festival opener has received scathing reviews from audiences and critics.The IndyWire blog stated that any edits Weinstein had in mind would have been futile in improving the film. Adrian Pretchel of the Munich newspaper hailed it as a common predictable biopic. Screen Daily’s Fionnuala Halligan stated that the film was “puzzlingly misjudged,” and that the lead actress strains to hit the right chords, but ultimately falls short. American critics are not any more forgiving, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Stephen Dalton called the film a stiff, dull, and stagey attempt at earnestness that has achieved more drama offscreen than on. Dalton also illustrated his surprise that a film could be so boring that is based on such rich subject matter.
Despite the deemed controversy of the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival opener Grace of Monaco, the festival continues with 18 films from directors all over the world competing for the coveted Palm d’Or (the festival’s top prize, which is to be presented on May 24). Governing the Cannes Film Festival is a jury of nine, headed by New Zealand director Jane Campion. She is the only female in history to win the Palm d’Or for her 1993 drama The Piano. Attendees of the festival have not been dissuaded by the Grace of Monaco debacle, Danish jury member and director Nicolas Winding Refn compared the selection of films in competition at the Cannes Film Festival as so great that it is like “being a kid in candy store.”
By Andres Loubriel