Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on

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The Independent Culture

Laughed out of the Cannes Film Festival when it premiered last year, Grace of Monaco was gleefully savaged by critics as “risible” and so wooden as to be a “fire risk”.

Now, even its own writers have joined in the mauling as it made its premiere on US television this week. One British scriptwriter called it his “film-making Vietnam”, reserving his most cutting criticism for the finished version’s direction and soundtrack.

The much-derided film, starring Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth, was not deemed good enough for US cinemas. The premiere on cable channel Lifetime on Tuesday night was the first chance for many of Kidman’s fans to see her portrayal as Grace Kelly.

Screenwriter Arash Amel shed light on what went on behind the scenes while filming the “catastrophe”. In the style of a DVD commentary, he “live” tweeted as the film was broadcast “to correct the record, an explanation, an apology and most of all a bit of light-hearted fun”.

Mr Amel, who was born in Aberystwyth in Wales but lives in Los Angeles, was named as one of Screen International’s British stars of tomorrow in 2013. “When I sat down to write Grace of Monaco in May 2011,” he said, “I had no idea it would still be entertaining the world four years later.”

The film was hit by a string of problems from delays to shooting and release, issues on set, multiple edits and clashes between the director Olivier Dahan and producer Harvey Weinstein. It was also slated by Monaco’s royal family.

The screenplay for Grace of Monaco had pedigree after it appeared on the prestigious Black List, a selection of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood as voted on by industry professionals. Weinstein referred to the original script as “like The King’s Speech”.

Mr Amel spent a year researching Grace of Monaco, poring over archive newspapers, 15 biographies and carrying out his own interviews. Yet, the vision in the final film “is all the director’s and French producer’s”. He added it “was my film-making Vietnam. I survived it, but I’ll never be the same.”

He repeatedly criticised the choice of soundtrack: “I have held my ears and shrieked on many an occasion hearing that music,” he said. “Lesson for film grads: this is how you wash away what was actually a great performance with unnecessary music.”

In the film, Kidman plays Grace Kelly, Hollywood star-turned-Monaco-princess, six years after her marriage to Prince Rainier. As Alfred Hitchcock tries to woo her back to films against her husband’s wishes, a geopolitical crisis erupts between Monaco and France.

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