Grace of Monaco was thought to be an Oscar contender. If the critics in Cannes for the annual film festival are to be believed, the biopic might want to brace itself for the Razzies.
Director Olivier Dahan’s drama about Grace Kelly’s early years as a princess – when Hollywood, personified by Alfred Hitchcock, tried to lure her back to the film industry – will open the 2014 Cannes Film Festival today (Wednesday). Grace of Monaco casts Nicole Kidman as the iconic title character, with Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) joining her as Prince Rainier III.
But the film was met with harsh criticism following early press screenings ahead of the world premiere, and the buzz on the movie’s once-bright awards hopes immediately went sour. The London Telegraph, in its one-star review, writes that with Grace of Monaco, "the acting is so heightened, and the script so thoroughly awful, that Dahan’s idea – his big and seemingly only one – can’t begin to stick."
The Hollywood Reporter similarly shreds Olivier Dahan’s efforts, writing "it is almost perversely impressive how Dahan misses almost every target and squanders almost every opportunity. … Grace of Monaco is a stiff, stagey, thuddingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on."
The off-screen drama is all that we knew of Grace of Monaco prior to these early screenings. Olivier Dahan battled with producer Harvey Weinstein over the final cut of his movie, dismissing Weinstein in the press and wondering if the world would ever see his intended cut of the film. Weinstein has a reputation of forcing his creative will on filmmakers, so Dahan’s claims were not surprising. However, the uber-producer – who has an admitted ear for Academy-friendly material – gave Grace of Monaco his blessing ahead of the movie’s Cannes debut. However, these reviews suggest that Weinstein knew there would be troubled waters ahead.
It's possible this bad buzz could work in the film’s favor, at least when it comes to earning an audience and possibly winning back some of the financial investment. As the BBC notes, the film is being heralded as a "timeless camp classic" already, so the sheer terribleness of it all could mean rowdy midnight screenings are in the film’s future. But Nicole Kidman and Olivier Dahan might want to put down the pen and stop crafting those Oscar speeches at the moment, because that ship might have officially sailed.