It's never a good sign when the off-screen drama surrounding a film is more interesting than the drama on screen, and according to early reviews, such is the case with director Olivier Dahan's Grace Kelly biopic, "Grace of Monaco," which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night.
"Grace of Monaco," which stars Nicole Kidman as the actress-turned-princess, has been the subject of a contentious dispute between Dahan and U.S. distributor Harvey Weinstein over the tone of the film, and Dahan's cut screened at Cannes. The response wasn't pretty.
"It is almost perversely impressive how Dahan misses almost every target and squanders almost every opportunity," the Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton wrote. He added, "'Grace of Monaco' is relentlessly middlebrow mush. Even fans of glitzy Eurotrash royalty porn will be disappointed, as Dahan methodically avoids camp excess and salacious speculation in a misguided bid to whitewash Kelly as a self-sacrificing People's Princess in the Lady Diana mold."
Scott Foundas of Variety said: "Handsomely produced but as dramatically inert as star Nicole Kidman's frigid cheek muscles, Dahan's strained bid to recapture the critical and commercial success of his smash Edith Piaf biopic 'La Vie en Rose' is the sort of misbegotten venture no amount of clever re-editing could hope to improve." He added that the script, by Arash Amel, "is agonizingly airless and contrived."
The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw described "Grace" as "a film so awe-inspiringly wooden that it is basically a fire-risk." He added: "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."
Time's Richard Corliss wrote, "Often silly but never vivacious, 'Grace of Monaco' fails as either a stately drama of the BBC provenance or an entertainingly trashy tell-all.... The film is short on either insight or juice. If it works at all, it is because of Kidman's commitment."
Total Film's Jamie Graham called the movie "frustratingly superficial and speckled with cod-psychology and unintentional humour." The Telegraph's Robbie Collin deemed it "a fantastically silly melodrama," and HitFix's Guy Lodge said it's "hilariously ham-handed."
Just about the only positive review of the film was from Geoffrey Macnab of the Independent, who wrote: "'Grace Of Monaco' is a star vehicle par excellence — an old fashioned weepie in which Nicole Kidman (as Grace) is given as many lambent close-ups (and changes of costume) as Greta Garbo once received in 'Queen Christina' or 'Anna Karenina.' Kidman excels in a role in which she is called on to project glamour and suffering in equal measure — and is never allowed to be seen in the same outfit twice."