Nicole Kidman defends performance as Princess Grace of Monaco

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 12:45am

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman defended her new picture
Grace of Monaco after a critics' mauling at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival - but admitted a boycott by the late princess' family was "awkward".

Kidman, 46, stars as Grace Kelly, the American actress turned European royalty, in the French production which kicked off the 12-day extravaganza, having generated serious off-screen drama ahead of its red-carpet premiere on Wednesday.

Critics were scathing after an early preview, with Britain's
The Guardian calling the picture a "breathtaking catastrophe" and "so ... wooden that it is basically a fire risk", while industry magazine
Hollywood Reporter savaged a "stiff royal soap opera that drags where it should dazzle".

Kidman, who at least bears a remarkable physical similarity to the statuesque Grace in the film, gave her maligned director Olivier Dahan a little squeeze as she faced the press with a smile.

When asked about the decision by Grace's children, Prince Albert and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie, to angrily dismiss the film this month as "totally fictional", she said she hoped they would still watch it one day.

"Obviously I feel sad because I think that the film has no malice towards the family or in particular towards Grace or [Prince] Rainier," she said.

She acknowledged that the filmmakers had taken liberties with the facts in their tale of Grace's role in quashing palace intrigue and resolving a dispute with France that threatened the tiny principality's independence.

"There's the essence of truth but with a lot of these things, you take dramatic licence at times," she said. "But I want them to know that the performance was done with love and ultimately if they ever did see it, they would see that there was an enormous amount of affection for both their parents, and the love story of their parents."

Dahan, whose 2007 portrait of singer Edith Piaf,
La Vie en Rose, won star Marion Cotillard an Academy Award, had stridently defended the film against interference by powerful US distributor Harvey Weinstein in an ugly public spat.

He told reporters he and Weinstein had reached a truce which will allow the film to be screened in the world's biggest film market, and said he was within his rights to embellish a few historical facts.

"It's a portrait, it's never been a biopic in my mind, from the very beginning," he said. "We've tried to make a complex movie but very accessible [at] the same time."