Well, this is a positive turn of events for “Grace of Monaco.” Olivier Dahan’s biopic of Hollywood-turned-European princess Grace Kelly was initially slated to open until November last year, until The Weinstein Company booted it from their prestige release schedule and announced it’d be a spring 2014 release instead. With iffy word brewing about the Nicole Kidman starrer, and Dahan voicing his reservations about the Weinsteins’ handling, it looked like the film might be quietly swept under the rug.
Not so, it turns out: “Grace of Monaco” will premiere on May 14 as the Opening Film of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. The film will open in France, and several other regions, on the same day.
The Weinsteins dropped a hint this may be in ther works when they pulled the film from their US release calendar earlier this week. And the selection makes perfect sense from a Cannes standpoint: it’s sparkly, set in the region, and guarantees the red-carpet presence of international A-list stars. Kidman, in particular, is a longtime friend of the festival: a juror last year, she has brought numerous films to the Croisette, including 2001 festival opener “Moulin Rouge!.”
Whether this means the film itself is up to scratch is another question entirely. Opening night is a famously tricky slot, and Cannes has had a hit-and-miss record with their selections in recent years: “Midnight in Paris” and “Moonrise Kingdom” were warmly embraced, “Blindness,” “My Blueberry Nights” and “Robin Hood,” not so much.
Last year’s pick, “The Great Gatsby,” fell somewhere in between, though it’s interesting to note that was also a major prestige film with poor advance word that had been bumped from the previous year’s schedule. The Cannes date initiated a kind of rehabilitation of its reputation, and the film wound up exceeding critical and commercial expectations. Could “Grace” follow a similar trajectory? Like “Gatsby,” it’s not playing in Competition, which reduces the critical pressure on the film.
The film also stars Tim Roth, Derek Jacobi, Parker Posey, Frank Langella and Paz Vega. Dahan, who previously directed Marion Cotillard to an Oscar in “La Vie en Rose,” last ventured into English-language waters with the Renee Zellweger-Forest Whitaker musical drama “My Own Love Song,” which never received a US release.
The 67th Cannes Film Festival takes place from May 14 to 25, with Jane Campion already confirmed as the president of this year’s Competition jury.