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Posted: 8:28 a.m. Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cannes: Day 1: 'Grace' isn't good 

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Grace  of Monaco
The Weinstein Co.
Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Kelly in "Grace of Monaco, " which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.

By Charles Ealy

American-Statesman staff

"Grace of Monaco," the much-discussed movie about Grace Kelly's marriage to Prince Rainier, kicked off the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. And here's the general critical reaction: Yawn, but nice costumes.

Coinciding with the world premiere was news that the Weinstein Co. is planing to sign a deal to retain U.S. distribution rights, according to Variety, after a long dispute between French producers and American indie mogul Harvey Weinstein over whether the film should be re-edited. Apparently it won't be. At least that's what critics were told Wednesday at a press conference after the premiere. But it looks as though Weinstein got a $2 million reduction in distribution fees.

After seeing the movie, many critics on Wednesday agreed that Weinstein has a point: The movie has problems. But it's far less certain that any amount of editing would help the final product.

"Grace of Monaco" stars Nicole Kidman as the Oscar-winning actress who gave up her Hollywood lifestyle to marry Monaco's Prince Rainier (Tim Roth). But being a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be. Or at least that's the assertion of the script.

As Kelly, Kidman speaks her mind a bit too much for palace standards, and six years into her marriage, she has grown increasingly alienated from her distant husband. She wonders whether she'll ever be able to have a creative life again. And the wily director Alfred Hitchcock has offered her a part in "Marnie." What to do? Should a princess play a frigid kleptomaniac?

But Kidman/Kelly is getting to walk around and pose while draped in Dior and Cartier, so it doesn't seem too bad. It's a case of First World problems, for sure.

While the marriage appears to be rocky, so is the state of affairs in Monaco. It seems that French President Charles de Gaulle needs extra cash to keep Algeria in its colonial servitude, and that's ringing up a big war tab. So De Gaulle wants Rainier to start taxing corporate profits and send the money to Paris. Rainier resists the suggestion, saying Monaco is independent. And De Gaulle starts a blockade of the tiny European principality.

Ultimately, it's up to Kelly to win over the hearts and minds of the European people and prevent French aggression. But how to do so? Oh, yes. Let's throw a charity ball! And I'll stand up and say that I personify Monaco, and if you French meanies attack Monaco, you're really attacking me. If life and politics were so simple.

At any rate, Kidman lends an icy air to Grace Kelly, but she looks great. That's about all that can be said for the movie, as well.

A release date for "Grace of Monaco" hasn't been set for the United States. But if Weinstein is wise, he'll dump it this summer and move on. 

About Charles Ealy

Charles Ealy writes and edits stories about movies, books and the arts for the Austin American-Statesman.

Send Charles Ealy an email.

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