opens with a royal biopic worse than Diana Cannes
Naomi Watts set the bar high with last year's Princess-Di disaster. But Nicole Kidman has outdone her: this Grace Kelly film, which kicks off Cannes 2014, is a breathtaking catastrophe
The Guardian, Wednesday 14 May 2014 / http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/may/14/grace-of-monaco-cannes-review-nicole-kidman
It's traditional for
to start with something spectacular.
This is certainly no exception. It is a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it
is basically a fire-risk. The cringe-factor is ionospherically high. A fleet of
ambulances may have to be stationed outside the Palais to take tuxed audiences
to hospital afterwards to have their toes uncurled under general anaesthetic. Cannes
Grace of Monaco is a stately and swooning homage to Princess Grace, formerly Grace Kelly, focusing on her alleged courage in keeping plucky little Monaco safe for tax-avoiding billionaires. This was during its supremely parochial and uninteresting 1962 face-off with Charles De Gaulle, who wanted to absorb the principality and its monies into
national bosom. So can Grace, by finally sacrificing her movie career on the
altar of this cockamamie Ruritanian state, and flaunting her martyred couture
loveliness, win the respect of the Monégasque folk and even the grumpy old
Général himself? France
The resulting film about this fantastically boring crisis is like a 104-minute Chanel ad, only without the subtlety and depth. Princess Grace herself is played by Nicole Kidman, wafting around the Palace with dewy-eyed features and slightly parted lips which make her look like a grown-up Bambi after a couple of cocktails, suddenly remembering his mother's violent death in the forest.
It doesn't seem that long since we endured a horrendous biopic of Princess Diana, that other super-rich blonde pasionaria — played by Naomi Watts. As audiences reeled into the foyer after that, they comforted themselves with the thought that surely things couldn't get worse. Surely they wouldn't be forced to endure another badly acted, badly directed film about a wealthy and self-pitying royal?
How very wrong. I can now actually imagine a creepy science-fiction short story about someone going back to prehistoric days in a time machine, killing a tiny trilobite, and then coming to the present to find everything the same, only now it's Naomi Watts playing Grace and Nicole Kidman playing Diana.
The movie begins with a sketch of jowly and adorable old Alfred Hitchcock (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) coming to
to tempt Grace back to the movies, proffering a juicy leading role in his
latest film, Marnie. Two recent dramas about Hitchcock's troubled life — one
for cinema, a better one for TV — have in fact begun in approximately the same
way, but then followed the troubled director back to the US. Here, we stay with
Kidman's Grace, who is effectively confronted by a dilemma. Should she return
to her selfish, shallow life in Monaco Hollywood or
build a new shallow, selfish life in ? Monte
And so the terrible mental turmoil begins. She pores over the script, late at night, in bed, with stylish reading glasses. During the day, she tries her darnedest to impress the wittering ladies of
entering into the spirit of charity galas and such. She worries about plotting
against her at court. She consults her confidant, one Father Francis Tucker, a
sorrowing priest who is evidently permitted the familiarity of calling her
"Gracie", played with conviction by Frank Langella. Monaco
Then, in order to bone up on the history and culture of
— and perhaps because the situation is not yet sufficiently gay — Grace
consults a local nobleman, Count Fernando D'Aillieres, played by Derek Jacobi.
He scampers about the hillsides, with Grace in tow, filling her in on all the
tiresome details, while also presuming to give her tips on acting and
deportment. (Surely as an Oscar-winning star she knows this stuff already?)
Jacobi has a little fun with the part, although it needed Ian McKellen to come
on, playing the Count's ageing houseboy. Monaco
But how about the people for whom it is all supposed to be about? Her, erm, husband and children? Well, the absolute indifference shown by Grace to her kids here is startling. And what of Prince Rainier himself, that fairy-tale prince for whom she gave it all up? He is played by Tim Roth, who gives a very cigarette-smoking, glasses-wearing, moustache-having performance. He is always leaning in his chair, leaning against door frames — looking through his glasses, and smoking. What is this remarkable head of state thinking about? As performed by Tim Roth, it looks like he is thinking about how much he regrets taking this appalling role, and how inadequate he considers his fee, whatever it is.
An interesting, complex film could be made about a talented woman who decides to make the best of being trapped in an imperfect marriage. But such a film would have to stop curtsying, and really think about its subject.
Confirmed: Nicole Kidman's Grace Of Monaco will open the 67th annual
film festival despite ongoing controversy Cannes
By LILLIAN RADULOVA and ALISON BOSHOFF
PUBLISHED: 03:11 GMT, 11 May 2014 / http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2625394/Nicole-Kidmans-Grace-Of-Monaco-open-Cannes-film-festival.html
It has been slammed by the
as a 'farce', and even its U.S.
Hollywood distributor has threatened to dump it. Palace of Monaco
But, despite all the internal and external struggles, it has been confirmed that the controversial film about the life of Grace Kelly will not only be played at
but will also open the prestigious international film festival. Cannes
Grace Of Monaco, which features Australian actress Nicole Kidman in the lead role, will premiere on Wednesday.
There were doubts about the film being screened at all, and Kidman's happiness that her performance will finally see the light of day will no doubt be blunted by ongoing disputes and criticism of the film behind the scenes.
Hollywood movie mogul and the film's distributor Harvey Weinstein, a long-standing patron and friend of Kidman’s, was reportedly so unhappy with the film - as completed by French director Olivier Dahan - that he edited his own version to be released in the
Arash Amel, one of the scriptwriters who was also a producer on the film, defended his work last week.
He said: ‘It was never about the truth in a literal way, it was about the interpretation of an icon. I think every country in the world will see this story a little bit differently.
America and are just the furthest apart
on that spectrum.’ France
A deal was worked out so Weinstein could release his version in the
while the director’s cut would come to French cinemas. U.S.
However, in January that fell apart when Weinstein put off an agreed March release date, saying the picture was ‘not ready’.
Soon after it was announced that Grace Of Monaco - the French version, approved by Dahan - was going to open the
film festival. Cannes
Weinstein was furious and began trying to renegotiate his rights fee with the film’s financier. He wanted to pay £2million rather than £3million, citing broken promises on the part of the French filmmakers, and added costs incurred by the new cut.
Now, according to Nicole Kidman, there has been an 11th-hour compromise.
’s royal family, the
Grimaldis, have publicly criticised the film as fake and nonsense. Monaco
Kidman herself has expressed her empathy towards Princess Grace’s three children, who have spoken out against the film and claiming it is based on ‘erroneous and dubious historical references’.
The actress told the Daily Mail: ‘I know they’re upset. I would be, too, if it were my mother.
‘It’s a child’s job to protect their parent. In that regard, I get it. I get why the children are upset.
‘I can’t say much other than that I have great respect and regard for their mother. It’s not meant to be a biopic. I certainly did my best to honour everything that was real and truthful in it.'
But it is the film’s apparent suggestion that the marriage between Grace and her prince was deeply unhappy that has dismayed the Grimaldis, who have long been beset by scandal.
Last week Grace and
children said the film was completely fictional and did not accurately portray
events involving their mother.
They were not given a script to approve in advance, and saw it only after it was lodged with the Hollywood Writers’ Guild.
royal family’s statement
said: ‘The Prince’s Palace would like to reiterate that this feature film
cannot under any circumstances be classified as a biopic. The trailer appears
to be a farce and confirms the totally fictional nature of this film. Monaco
‘It reinforces the certainty, left after reading the script, that this production, a page of the Principality’s history, is based on erroneous and dubious historical references.
‘The Princely Family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.
Grace Kelly: screen goddess, princess and enduring source of scandal
Kelly's life was one of glamour, privilege and ultimately tragedy. Now, as Grace of Monaco, the biopic starring Nicole Kidman, opens the
film festival, fresh controversy has stirred Cannes
Vanessa Thorpe, Observer arts and media correspondent
The Observer, Sunday 11 May 2014 / http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/may/11/grace-kelly-grace-of-monaco-film-nicole-kidman-controversy
A blind date, you could call it, if a rather high-flown one. She was Grace Kelly, Oscar-winning Hollywood star, in
Cannes to join the US
delegation at the film festival of 1955, and he was Prince Rainier III, of the
neighbouring principality of .
A photoshoot of their meeting over a pot of tea on the Croisette had been set
up. Despite the glamorous trappings, it was a stilted, formal start to a
stilted, formal courtship. Monaco
On Wednesday the late, great beauty is to make waves on the beach at
once again, when the new biopic starring Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco, opens
the 67th annual film festival. It is a controversial film before the critics
have had sight of it, because the Grimaldi family, Princess Grace's three
children by Cannes Rainier, have poured scorn on the
screenplay and because its powerful producer, Harvey Weinstein, is known to
have criticised director Olivier Dahan's handling of the material. The film,
which concentrates on a relatively short period in the life of the princess and
co-stars Tim Roth as Rainier, was to have opened last November. In January, the
Weinstein Company temporarily removed the film from its schedule.
Whatever the motivation for making Grace of Monaco, the film reflects an enduring interest in a woman who, as the Observer's former critic Philip French said this weekend, became "an important and complex figure". When Hitchcock dreamed of his perfect, ice-cold blonde, it was Grace Kelly who made her luminous flesh. The director's infatuated vision of cut-crystal allure has kept the image of the princess alive in the 32 years since her death in a car crash near her
home. Her performances in some of
the most admired films of all time, from Fred Zinneman's 1952 western High
Noon, to the unnerving Rear Window, placed her in the midst of Riviera 's most potent era. "She was
important to the development of the legend of Hitchcock and, in those half a
dozen films she made in five years or so in the early 1950s, she became a key
figure in film; in film criticism; in the birth of the idea of celebrity; and
even in politics," said French. "High Noon was a very influential
film at the time of the cold war and of McCarthyism in Hollywood . People on the left and on the
right became obsessed with it." Hollywood
Sir Christopher Frayling, an expert on the western, sees Kelly's young school ma'am in this film as the archetypal "fair lady", in opposition to the "dark lady" of the saloon bar, played in this case by Katy Jurado. "Grace was the ultimate Wasp, remote and haughty and more
New England than
wild west," he said.
Kelly gave up acting when she married the prince in April 1956, becoming Monaco's princess consort in a church service watched by guests including Cary Grant, Ava Gardner and David Niven, and wearing a handsewn dress sent by MGM studios. The wedding was filmed and released in cinemas in a deal that freed her from a seven-year contract, and the couple sailed off on honeymoon on a yacht given to them by Aristotle Onassis. Her transformation from film star to royalty was made complete when Rainier banned her films in
The "wedding of the century" was satirically recorded in Punch,
remembers French, with a poetic pastiche of Hilaire Belloc written by Graham
Greene that pointed up the disconcerting involvement of Father Francis Tucker,
her husband's chaplain and moral adviser (played by Frank Langella in the new
film), which concludes: Monaco
Prince, you may draw your curtain close
And see your sentries on the stair,
Then lie down by the bride you chose,
But Father Tucker will be there.
Grace Patricia Kelly's story is far from a rags-to-riches fairytale. (That template better fits Rita Hayworth, who started out dancing in a nightclub as Margarita Cansino and became the wife of the Aga Khan.) She was the third child of a rich Philadelphia brick magnate and enjoyed a privileged upbringing that would go on to make her a natural for The Philadelphia Story, a play she appeared in at drama school before later taking the lead role of Tracy Lord in the musical version, High Society, her final Hollywood film, opposite Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
Crosby, who sang the hit song True Love with her in High Society, has a place on her long list of great loves. Early on she had fallen for Gary Cooper, who handpicked her for stardom in High Noon. She would have an affair with Clark Gable while filming Mogambo, leading her to quip: "What else is there to do if you're alone in a tent in
Africa with Clark Gable?" Later she told an
interviewer that "if there hadn't been so much of an age discrepancy
things might have been different".
Dishonourable mentions also reportedly go to married stars William Holden, Ray Milland, David Niven, Oleg Cassini, the husband of Gene Tierney, and even to Pierre Galante, Olivia de Havilland's husband and the man who set up her first meeting with Rainier in
. Niven did nothing
to dispel the image of Kelly as a sex enthusiast when he told Michael Parkinson
about the dicey moment when Cannes Rainier asked him
over dinner who had been his most exciting lover. Catching himself and changing
his answer as he spoke, Niven replied: "Grac-ie Fields". Luckily,
Rainier had never heard of the Lancashire
In 1954 Kelly won the lead role in the film of Clifford Odets's The Country Girl opposite Crosby and Holden. It was an unglamorous part as the neglected wife of an alcoholic, but her degradations earned her an Oscar, beating off Judy Garland, also nominated for A Star is Born.
It is likely that the new Dahan film focuses on the least exciting period of Kelly's life – a time when protocol overrode ambition. The storyline charts the political pressure the French government put on
Rainier and Kelly's decision
not to take the lead role in Hitchcock's Marnie, leaving the way open for
newcomer Tippi Hedren to star.
Last week Kidman said she understood why Kelly's three children had spoken out against the film. "It's a child's job to protect their parent," she said. "In that regard, I get it. I get why the children are upset." She added: "It's not meant to be a biopic. I certainly did my best to honour everything that was real and truthful in it."
Kidman said she felt Kelly had to play the part of a princess. Adopting a new regal identity, she took up the charitable life, promoting the Red Cross with a starry annual ball in
hosting Christmas parties for local children. Yet she was always flanked by the
press, as is shown in a poignant picture of her arriving at the Monaco film festival for
a Hitchcock tribute two years before her death. "The freedom of the press
works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it," she once
She died in a car accident on a dangerous coastal road in 1982, suffering a stroke and losing control of the vehicle, which spun and plunged down a 45ft drop. Younger daughter Princess Stéphanie was in the car but survived with minor injuries. The funeral of her mother was watched by 100 million people on television.
There is, of course, a fashion legacy, celebrated four years ago at the
& in an exhibition, Grace Kelly:
Style Icon. But more than the ubiquitous Hermès Kelly bags, and a
"look" described by Women's Wear Daily in 1955 as "a fresh type
of natural glamour", the actress's real achievement may be the careful
transition from screen goddess to staid princess. She went convincingly from a
co-star about whom Cary Grant once said: "With all due respect to Ingrid
Bergman, I much preferred Grace. She had serenity," to an official and
public Serene Highness. Albert Museum
Grace Kelly: her key roles
High Noon, 1952 Schoolteacher bride of principled marshal Gary Cooper
Mogambo, 1953 An ingénue in
Africa with Clark Gable
Dial M for Murder, 1954 Deceived London wife of murderous Ray Milland
Rear Window, 1954 Polished lover of grumpy James Stewart
The Country Girl, 1954 Put-upon wife of alcoholic Bing Crosby (for which she won the best actress Oscar)
To Catch a Thief, 1955 Rich and headstrong pursuer of Cary Grant's retired cat burglar
High Society, 1956 Haughty heiress Tracy Lord