A Critical Disaster? Trying To Find 'Grace of Monaco's' Saving Graces

Nicole Kidman’s Grace of Monaco finally got its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this Wednesday and, to put it mildly, critics found it not to be worth the wait. The film seems to be have been universally panned with many calling it just too melodramatic for their taste. The movie’s reception is sure to be a blow for Kidman and director Olivier Dahan who already faced criticism from Monaco’s royal family and distribution problems before the film's release. But among all the negativity, does Grace of Monaco really have any saving graces?

Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly in Grace on MonacoNicole Kidman as Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco

The premiere of Grace of Monaco was certainly highly anticipated, but perhaps not for the right reasons. It had garnered much press attention in recent months thanks to comments from Monaco’s royal family and a dispute between the film’s director Olivier Dahan and distributor Harvey Weinstein.

More: 'Grace Of Monaco' Opens Cannes: A Royal Embarrassment For Nicole Kidman? [Trailer]

But when the grand premiere finally happened it became clear to many why there had be so much drama behind the scenes. The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin described international critics as starting to curl up, “like startled armadillos, into tight little balls of embarrassment” after watching just the opening scene. Writing in The Guardian Peter Bradshaw was particular scathing towards the movie, giving just one star and declaring it “a royal biopic worse than Diana.”

More: Nicole Kidman Defends Grace Of Monaco At Cannes Press Conference

Whilst the script has received a universal thumbs down, Kidman’s performance has had some mild praise, with critics feeling the actress did her best with the poor material. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Kidman “ brings an intensity that elevates even a shallow script with shades of emotional complexity,” to the role. While Vanity Fair described her as “undeniably striking as Princess Grace.”

Watch the trailer for Grace of Monaco here:

But however much Kidman tried to emulate the actress turned princess, the script’s campy melodrama was just too much for her to overcome. Last year some were touting Kidman as a potential Oscar winner in 2015, but that was before they’d seen the film. Now all hopes of any award above a Razzie are well and truly gone.

Total Film’s Jamie Graham did try to find the film’s better points writing “There are things to enjoy in Grace of Monaco, but they’re mostly eye candy: exotic, sun-dappled locales, glinting jewellery, immaculately coiffured hair, lavish set designs.” Indeed the general feeling is that Dahan really did allow style to triumph over substance this time.

More: Grace of Monaco's off screen drama

But there is one reviewer who found Grace of Monaco to be worthy of four out of five stars, The Independent’s Geoffrey McNab. In his review he described the film as “ a subtle and stylised character study.” Knowing that he might be alone in his praise he also wrote that “Grace Of Monaco is bound to be dismissed by its detractors as novelettish and melodramatic” but added that he found it to be “a film of considerable formal sophistication.” Yes some have wondering if he was watching a different movie.

Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly in Grace of MonacoGrace of Monaco has been negatively received by critics in Cannes

Is Grace of Monaco a critical disaster? In a word yes, it currently hold a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which might just be the least of its worries. For a film that had so much press prior to its debut screening the critical reception is at best embarrassing. Unfortunately for Grace of Monaco the off screen drama has proved to be more engrossing than the film itself, meaning this one might just find a place in history among cinema's biggest critical failures.


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