The Grace Kelly melodrama "Grace of Monaco" kicked off the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with classic French Riviera glamour, behind-the-scenes controversy and emphatic boos from critics.
The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a stiff, stagey, thunderingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on."
The film stars Nicole Kidman as Kelly during her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco — just an hour's drive down the coast from Cannes.
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"Grace of Monaco" arrived at the 11-day cinematic extravaganza in southern France amid high-profile disputes.
Director Olivier Dahan has feuded with the Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film in North America, over the final cut.
But after months of public squabble (Dahan criticized Weinstein Co. co-chairman Harvey Weinstein in the French press), the two sides swept their differences under the red carpet Wednesday. After twice postponing its U.S. release, the Weinstein Co. will distribute Dahan's version, albeit for a lesser fee.
"There is only one version of the film," Dahan said, adding that any changes would be made mutually. "There is no longer any dispute. We work well together."
"Grace of Monaco" screened for the press early Wednesday ahead of its evening premiere and was met with some of the worst reviews for a Cannes opener.
Reporters had wondered if Weinstein would spurn the premiere, causing him to issue a statement Wednesday saying he was traveling on a long-planned trip. He wished Dahan the cast "all the best" for the screening.
Princess Stephanie of Monaco has criticized the film about her parents as inaccurate. (It's labeled "a fictional account inspired by real events.") She has refused to see the movie, judging it by its script.
Kidman called the circumstance "awkward."
"Obviously I feel sad because I think the film has no malice toward the family," said Kidman.
The festival jury, which decides the prestigious Palme d'Or award, is headed this year by Jane Campion, the only female filmmaker to win the Palme (for "The Piano" in 1993).
Last year, it went to the erotic French coming-of-age tale "Blue Is the Warmest Color." In a first, Steven Spielberg's jury awarded the Palme not just to the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to its two stars, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.
This year brings a selection of 18 films somewhat light on Hollywood, but heavy on world-class auteurs, including Jean-Luc Godard, Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Mike Leigh and Michel Hazanavicius, returning to where his "The Artist" became a sensation.
Two films come from Americans: the Olympic wrestler drama "Foxcatcher," by Bennett Miller ("Capote"), starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carell; and the western "The Homesman," the second directing effort from Tommy Lee Jones.
Canadian filmmakers outnumber their North American neighbors: David Cronenberg's "Maps to the Stars," Atom Egoyan's "The Captives" and Xavier Dolan's "Mommy."
Films in competition will bring a bevy of A-listers, including both former "Twilight" co-stars Robert Pattinson (in "Maps to the Stars") and Kristen Stewart (in Olivier Assayas' "Clouds of Sils Maria"). Ryan Gosling will also present his directorial debut, "Lost River," in the Un Certain Regard section.
Though "Grace of Monaco" isn't eligible for the Palme, Kidman (a jury member last year) said she would have picked it.
"What would I give this movie?" said Kidman. "Come on. The Palme d'Or!"