Grace of Monaco serves up controversy on Cannes opening

Grace of Monaco opens the Cannes International Film Festival amid controversy coming from several directions, including the real-life subject's own royal family.

Actress Nicole Kidman waves as she walks on the Croisette on the eve of the opening of the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes. Reuters
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It has been savaged as 'shameful' before it even comes out, but the filmmakers behind Grace of Monaco are hoping to put all that behind them Wednesday when the movie kicks off the Cannes Film Festival.

Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman and French director Olivier Dahan are just some of the big names due to tread the red carpet as their film gets its world premiere at the start of the 12-day film fest in the glamorous Riviera resort. The film is also opening in the UAE on Thursday.

Ryan Gosling, David Cronenberg, Sophia Loren and jury head Jane Campion are also set to make an appearance during the 67th Cannes Film Festival, where directorial big guns will go head-to-head in a year of comebacks, swansongs and star debuts.

Dahan's Grace of Monaco has been embroiled in not one but two rows as the princely children of the late actress-turned-princess and powerful US distributor Harvey Weinstein blast the director's version of the film.

Rather than illustrate her life as whole, the movie focuses on a period of high tensions between the tiny state on a rock and France in 1962 that prompted the princess to turn down an offer by Alfred Hitchcock to return to her beloved acting.

Prince Albert II and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie insist that the film, which also features the British actor Tim Roth as Prince Rainier, does not accurately portray events involving their mother.

The Grimaldis have publicly disavowed a film they say “has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes”.

"This film should never have existed," Stephanie of Monaco told local daily Nice Matin.

Dahan retorted that the princely family had not seen the film and was basing its allegations purely on the trailer.

“They want to control their image, defend their family and at the same time it’s business,” he told the same daily.

Jeffrey Robinson, the author of a biography on Grace who met her and read the script, also savaged the film in an interview with Nice Matin.

“The authors of the screenplay don’t know anything, did not capture her personality, did not meet her at the time. It’s shameful and they’re not honouring her.”

As if this was not enough, the Frenchman has been locked in a long-standing tussle with Weinstein, the film’s distributor in the United States.

Both have been at loggerheads over the final version of the movie - the release has been delayed several times - with Dahan accusing Weinstein of wanting a new, breezier edit he has described as “catastrophic.”

Dahan and Kidman will no doubt address the controversy at a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon, before walking up the 24 steps to the festival palace under the eager gaze of curious onlookers and the world’s photographers.

The event is due to kick off with an opening ceremony hosted by French actor Lambert Wilson, after which 18 films will compete for the coveted Palme d’Or prize during the extravaganza, which wraps up May 15.

The festival will see Canadian heartthrob Gosling showcase his directorial debut Lost River. Films by the 25-year-old whizz kid Xavier Dolan, veteran director Jean-Luc Godard and Men in Black actor Tommy Lee Jones will also compete.

On the sidelines of the competitions, muscle men Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger will take a trip to the resort on board a tank to promote their film The Expendables 3.

And to seal off this year's festivities, US Cannes-lover Quentin Tarantino will go back in time and showcase A Fistful of Dollars at the closing ceremony, in a glitzy celebration of the 50th anniversary of spaghetti westerns.