A French-American spat over Grace Kelly biopic
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In an interview with French daily Libération published on Friday, French director Olivier Dahan slammed US distributor Harvey Weinstein for "totally re-editing" his upcoming Grace Kelly biopic, "Grace of Monaco", starring Nicole Kidman.
After being slammed by Prince Albert II of Monaco and his sisters for its supposed historical inaccuracies, an upcoming film about Princess Grace of Monaco is the subject of a new spat.
This time, it’s the film’s director, Frenchman Olivier Dahan, who is accusing famous US distributor Harvey Weinstein of “totally re-editing” the film, which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly and Tim Roth as her husband, Prince Rainer III.
In a scorching interview published Friday in French daily Libération, Dahan states that “there are two versions of the film: mine and [Weinstein’s], which I find catastrophic”.
Dahan, who directed Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en Rose”, which earned Marion Cotillard a Best Actress Oscar, has threatened to have his name removed from the credits.
Originally slated for a November release with an eye toward an Oscar campaign for leading lady Nicole Kidman, Weinstein announced in September that the film would instead hit theatres in 2014. “[I]t just wasn’t ready,” Weinstein told The Hollywood Reporter. “The score wasn’t ready, a lot of things weren’t ready.”
But in the interview with Libération, Dahan contends that the Weinstein company took the footage without his permission and has been reworking it into a movie “that plays like a trailer”.
In France, directors are known to have control over the “final cut” – a privilege enjoyed by only a select few in Hollywood, where filmmakers routinely hand over their last edit to producers, who can further trim the movie according to what they assume will be audience expectations.
According to Dahan, since this is a French-produced film, “there shouldn’t be this type of problem”.
‘All about money’
Stone Angels, the French production company behind “Grace of Monaco”, and Weinstein have not responded to Dahan’s comments.
Shot in France, Italy and Monaco last fall, the film focuses on a period in 1962 during which French President Charles de Gaulle, angry over Monaco’s status as a tax haven, established an economic blockade on the small principality.
Dahan is known mostly for mainstream films that sometimes do good business at the box office, but get little love from French critics.
In his interview with Libération, however, the director alleges that Weinstein has transformed what was an interesting work into a sleek product. “They want a commercial film, something very low-brow, so they edited out everything messy, everything sharp – everything that was cinematic and that resembled real life,” Dahan said. “This is all about money…and nothing to do with cinema.”
Weinstein is known for mounting ferocious Oscar campaigns for independent and foreign films, like Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Artist”, which won Best Picture, Director and Actor at the Academy Awards in 2012.
In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month, Weinstein expressed confidence about “Grace of Monaco”, promising a “fantastic, and very glamorous” movie that “could be bigger than ‘My Week with Marilyn’”.
That film, about Marilyn Monroe’s experience shooting a movie with Laurence Olivier in England, earned lead Michelle Williams a Best Actress nomination.
But Weinstein’s deft marketing skills do not seem to be much consolation to Dahan. “Cinema is very secondary in all this,” he told Libération. “Hence the disinterest I’m starting to feel for this film.”
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