Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cannes Review: Nicole Kidman Triumphs as Princess Grace in a Grim Fairy Tale


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.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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