It's been an up-and-down journey for “Grace of Monaco,” the Nicole Kidman-starring biopic of Grace Kelly that was originally set to open last year. Negative buzz circled the European co-production following that delay, as word spread of intense friction between The Weinstein Company and French director Olivier Dahan over the edit of the film. “Grace” seemed to have been granted a reprieve when it was announced as this year's Cannes Film Festival opener — not a guarantee of quality, of course, but a helpful publicity boost.
Now, however, the film's fate once more appears uncertain, as Variety reports that Harvey Weinstein is considering relinquishing the US distribution rights to the film ahead of its Cannes premiere — with the company having omitted the title from recent press releases about their Cannes slate. Weinstein is said to still be unhappy with Dahan's edit of the film, which the mogul believes offers insufficient political context and focuses too little on Kelly's Hollywood career.
Dahan, however, is satisfied with his cut, and French law protects him from having to acquiesce to any of Weinstein's demands. The director, who had an international arthouse hit in 2007 with the Oscar-winning “La Vie en Rose,” hasn't minced words when speaking about his dealings with Weinstein. Back in October, he ranted to a French newspaper: “It's right to struggle, but when you confront an American distributor like Weinstein, not to name names, there is not much you can do. Either you say 'Go figure it out with your pile of shit' or you brace yourself so the blackmail isn't as violent … If I don't sign, that's where the out-and-out blackmail starts, but I could go that far. There are two versions of the film for now: mine and his … which I find catastrophic.”
Producers, apparently, are still open to the idea of Weinstein assembling a different edit for the film's US release, but not for the imminent Cannes premiere, while international distributors are satisfied with Dahan's edit. That puts Weinstein in a tricky position, as the crucial first reviews for the film out of Cannes will be of the edit he does not plan to release.
Without having seen the film, it's hard to say if either party has a more reasonable case: Dahan would hardly be the first director to be burned by the interference of “Harvey Scissorhands,” though the disaster of the director's barely-released English-language debut — the Renee Zellweger melodrama “My Own Love Song” — is at least one argument against giving the director unfettered creative freedom. We'll see soon enough.
“Grace of Monaco” opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 14.