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"Grace" Under Fire: Nicole Kidman's Biopic Makes History as One of Cannes' Worst Openers

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire May 14, 2014 at 11:02AM

The embattled Grace Kelly biopic got a royal thrashing and started the Cannes Film Festival with a bomb.
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Grace

http://time.com/98922/review-grace-of-monaco-scandal/ The very public editing battle between Harvey Weinstein director Olivier Dahan had already given "Grace of Monaco" the air of a wounded animal, but after the first wave of reviews for the Nicole Kidman-starring Grace Kelly biopic that opened the Cannes Film Festival last night, it's sounding more like roadkill. With a few exceptions, "Grace" is getting slammed across the board, garnering several one-star reviews and being hailed as one of the worst openers in Cannes history. But it's painful to watch (and I haven't seen it) it's sure fun to read about, with critics busting out their most colorful prose to run it through. Chances are good you'll enjoy reading the reviews more than you will watching "Grace of Monaco."

Reviews of "Grace of Monaco"

Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

It's traditional for Cannes 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.

Jonathan Romney, Sight & Sound

Instantly takes its place among the baddest of the bad: a stiff, stately, moribund piece of soft-focus hagiography that will one day make a perfect double bill with "Diana" lovers of regal camp. From the moment Nicole Kidman's Grace Kelly sashays off a film set to bouquets and applause, the film is as wearily starry-eyed about the Magic of the Movies as it is about sunkissed, protocol-bound Euro glamour.

Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter

It is even possible to make a boring film out of this rich, juicy, gossipy material? It would seem so. Indeed, it is almost perversely impressive how Dahan misses almost every target and squanders almost every opportunity.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

While not as campy as the material might suggest, it's a mixed bag of thinly conceived theatrics. But the uneven aspects sometimes play in its favor. Small touches hint at the darker context of Kelly's life, including one tense sequence where the exasperated actress speeds down a twisting dirt road, foreshadowing her death in a car crash decades later.

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Oliver Lyttleton, the Playlist

Even by the standards of recent Royal biopics "W.E." and "Diana," it's something of a disaster: rarely competent, unintentionally hilarious and borderline reprehensible in both its politics and its take on gender roles. It's unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

Robbie Collin, Telegraph

The director, Olivier Dahan, has been in edit-suite deadlock with his producer, Harvey Weinstein, for the best part of a year, stuck in an apparently unsolvable dispute over the film's tone. In the end, thanks to the entrenchment of le droit d'auteur in French law, it was Dahan's cut that screened at Cannes, although it seems unlikely Weinstein's version could have been any worse.

Nick Barber, BBC

As it turns out, Weinstein was dead right to have his reservations about "Grace of Monaco," but dead wrong about it being inaccessible. Far from being a challenging art-house project, like Dahan’s celebrated Edith Piaf biopic, "La Vie en Rose," "Grace of Monaco" is a clunkingly unconvincing melodrama which, were it not for its A-list star and the golden glow of the lighting, would be indistinguishable from the cheesiest and most patronizing of made-for-TV biopics. 

Richard Corliss, Time

Often silly but never vivacious, Grace of Monaco fails as either a stately drama of the BBC provenance or an entertainingly trashy tell-all.

Fionnala Hannigan, ScreenDaily

A minor royal Euro-pudding which lands awkwardly in sub-"Roman Holiday" territory amidst a product placement blitz of diamonds and up-dos, chandeliers and yachts, soft-focus close-ups and bleachy Riviera hues.

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Scott Foundas, Variety

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.

Guy Lodge, HitFix

A hilariously ham-handed attempt to dig beneath the Kelly mystique, only to find further foil-wrapped layers of mystique beneath.

Peter Labuza, the Film Stage

A mostly harmless and occasionally offensive affair that purports a "fictional account" of a true story tale.

Jamie Graham, Total Film

There are things to enjoy in "Grace of Monaco," but they're mostly eye candy: exotic, sun-dappled locales, glinting jewelry, immaculately coiffured hair, lavish set designs. Where Dahan’s movie lacks any sort of grace is in its drama.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies


In classical fairytales, there's always a horrid, malodorous antagonist who's out to wreak senseless havoc on a world of holy innocents. Here, the essence of this evil is the idea of big business having to pay income tax. This is a story about the sterling and wily efforts made by the crusty members of the European aristocracy to rid the world of this fiscal fug. 

Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair


"Grace of Monaco" is certainly not a good movie, but it's not a tacky trash masterpiece either. It's just slight and silly, but deluded enough to think it matters. That's the biggest insult of all.


This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Nicole Kidman, Olivier Dahan


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