Finally: a version of Grace of Monaco has officially screened for the press in Cannes. The Oliver Dahan film opens the festival tonight. Here’s the bottom line. Nicole Kidman, beautiful and intelligent, carries the film as regally as a princess. Even when things get out of hand factually and historically, Kidman keeps it anchored in a lovely star turn that will certainly put her in awards races come this fall.
Of course, “Grace of Monaco” has become a curiosity as Harvey Weinstein has fought with Dahan and French distributor Gaumont about the final cut. Last fall this column was exposed to Dahan’s cut, which Weinstein reportedly later said was “too dark.” Today in Cannes I think we saw the Gaumont cut, some kind of compromise between the studio and the director.
This version works, even though it could still use a little more tweaking. The movie has been totally re-edited and re-cut from the Dahan version. Now the first 45 minutes is driven less by Grace and Prince Rainier’s romance and life in Monaco than by Alfred Hitchcock trying to get Kelly back to work in Hollywood. In real life, Hitchcock never visited Kelly in Monaco. Like so many episodes in the movie, this is imagined or created. Indeed, the movie now carries a proviso that it is fiction inspired by facts, or something like that.
What still needs to be trimmed are some terrible lines of dialogue — especially a few about Charles DeGaulle. Also Kidman has a long speech at the end of the movie that could use some judicious editing. But all in all, she and Tim Roth (as Prince Rainier) are very good, as is Frank Langella as their confidante clergy. Parker Posey still seems like she’s in a Mel Brooks remake of “Rebecca,” however. And the added music, meant to sound like Bernard Herrmann (or really from a Hitchcock soundtrack) is too melodramatic. They should re-think the music.
Weinstein Company tried to back out of releasing “Grace.” But today comes word they cut a new deal with Gaumont, paid them $2-$3 million less than their original deal, and will release the film in early fall. Tonight we’ll see how the opening night black tie red carpet audience likes it. Some French journalists laughed out loud in the wrong places this morning and tried to start something. But there was scattered applause at the film’s conclusion. A lot of people liked it more than they thought they would. That’s progress.