Grace of Monaco has finally screened. While that might seem like a pretty basic goal for a feature film, particularly one starring Nicole Kidman, we have to set any critical reaction aside and focus on that accomplishment for a moment.
Grace of Monaco was originally slated to be part of last year’s awards race with a prime November release. After some very public squabbling between director Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose)and U.S. distributor The Weinstein Company (and executive Harvey Weinstein, in particular), the film was bumped to a March 2014 release…before being lifted from that as well. That blow was at least softened by news that it would be taking its current spot as the Cannes opener, but the film was still looking down the wrong side of the barrel when rumors surfaced that Weinstein might be backing out.
That, at least, seems like it will not be the case.
Speaking at the post-screening press conference, Dahan seemed to be consciously trying to dismiss fears about his movie, saying, “Harvey [Weinstein] will use this [the Cannes] version of the film. If there are any changes we will do them together. There is no dispute. It is all resolved and I am happy with the whole situation.” That’s a far cry from likening Weinstein’s negotiation tactics to blackmail and saying, “There are two versions of the film for now: mine and his … which I find catastrophic,” but it seems like things are smooth – relatively – and that a U.S. theatrical release will come to pass…eventually (a release date in the States still hasn’t been announced).
So color that news a success. But what of the film itself?
It may not be dead, but let’s say the vital signs are weak. Cannes has a reputation as a tough audience, but reaction to the fictionalized account of Hollywood actress Grace Kelly’s marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco has been tepid at best. Strong visuals are generally being attributed to Dahan’s presence, but reviews of Kidman’s work as the starlet-turned-princess have been mixed to negative, and the script has been roundly lampooned. It’s maybe a little predictable given the fact that extended controversy over the cut of a movie often points to narrative issues, but we were hoping for a grand turnaround following the film’s installation at Cannes.
More on the film is surely to come as Weinstein finalizes whatever release plans it now intends. We’d bet on an early fall slot, but we’ll keep you up to date on any official word as we hear it.