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Cannes Opening Night: 'Grace of Monaco' Arrives

Photo of Matt Mueller By Matt Mueller | Thompson on Hollywood May 14, 2014 at 9:56AM

The announcement this morning that Harvey Weinstein had negotiated himself a better deal on the US distribution rights for "Grace Of Monaco" (by $2-3m, according to Variety) must have been bittersweet for the film's producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogom, director Olivier Dahan and star Nicole Kidman.
'Grace of Monaco'
'Grace of Monaco'

As for Kidman, she looks radiant and stunning; the production's hair, make-up, costume, production design and location teams have performed their jobs well and the film oozes a sense of fairytale glamour. Ultimately, though, it's a royal wallow filled with too many dawdling close-ups of the actress and peculiar interludes (Parker Posey borders on parody as a mildly menacing Mrs Danvers type, while the less said about Derek jacobi cropping up for a segment in which Grace takes Monagesque etiquette lessons, the better).

At the press conference following, Kidman was the focus of attention, with a few highlights below. Minutes after it finished, Weinstein released a statement about why he won't be attending the premiere tonight: he's in Jordan on a "long-planned trip" with the UNHCR to visit Syrian refugee camps but wishes everyone involved the best.

- The first question from a journalist asked Kidman about her reaction to the Grimaldi family's attack on the film. "Obviously I feel sad because the film has no malice towards the family or towards Grace or Rainier. It's not a biopic. But I understood also because it's their mother and father and I understand that [feeling] of protection and privacy. It's awkward is what it is but I say that with respect and I want them to know that the performance was done with love. If they ever did see it, I think they would see that there was an enormous amount of affection for both their parents and the love story of their parents."

- Dahan, who looked like he was feeling beleaguered up on stage, on whether a different version would be released in the US: "There's only one version of the film. Harvey will use that version. If some changes need to be made, we'll do them together. There's no longer any dispute; everything has been totally resolved. We work well together and I'm very pleased with the current situation."

- Dahan on why he decided to blur the lines between historical fact and fiction: "Almost everything is true… real. We did invent something in the screenplay: De Gaulle never went to the Red Cross ball in Monaco but I wanted to make a film and I needed to have the two main protagonists in the same place, even if they never talk to each other. So I twisted reality just a little bit without really twisting it… I read up on history very carefully but I'm not a biographer or historian. Hitchcock never visited Grace in the palace, he just called her. But I needed to bring characters together. It's just a question of images really. What I've tried to achieve is not to show facts, but to depict the heart of things. I used my intuition and that of the actors as well. What we wanted to show was what Grace Kelly might have looked like or done in this or that situation."

- Kidman's favourite Grace Kelly performance, and favourite Hitchcock film as well, is "Rear Window". Hitchcock's films were the main inspiration for DoP Eric Gautier in terms of how he and Dahan wanted "Grace Of Monaco" to look, in particular "Dial M For Murder", "Rear Window" and "To Catch A Thief". Said Gautier: "I tried to use the aesthetics of the time, the early '60s, and it was important always to feel that the film belongs to the world of cinema, especially Hitchcock. My way to translate it was to show that she is an actress."

- Kidman, who wears a $5m Cartier necklace in the film, was asked a personal question whether she'd ever give up her career for love, and said without hesitation: "I wouldn't think twice about it… I've certainly existed without love in my life and it's a very empty life. I've always said when I won the Oscar, I went home and I didn't have that in my life. And that was the most intensely lonely period of my life. My professional highs have often coincided with personal lows. They've kind of collided and that's always aggravated me."

This article is related to: Festivals, Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, Grace of Monaco, Nicole Kidman, Nicole Kidman

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.